ground meats

I was away the beginning of July and realized today that I had forgotten to post the blog for this column, which appeared in the Aroostook Republican on July 2nd. Sorry about that.

Hamburger, ground chicken, turkey, and pork add variety and convenience to your meals. They can be frozen and available at any time and are a tasty background for herbs, spices, and vegetables, rounding out any family meal.

sweet-and-sour turkey meatballs
Whenever my daughter, Bennet, visits, she asks for this dish, and I enthusiastically comply since I love it, too. You can double the recipe for a crowd. And it is easy to make ahead and heat just before serving. Bring to room temperature first.

For the meatballs:

  • ¾ lb ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 10 crushed saltines
  • ½ cup canned milk
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • ½ tsp dried savory or rosemary
  • Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a cookie sheet with foil coated with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, soften cracker crumbs in milk. Beat in egg. Add remaining items, mixing well. Use a cookie scoop or form balls by hand, about the size of a walnut. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or till nicely browned.

While meatballs are baking, prepare the sauce:

  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 1 tsp lite olive oil
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 2 Tbs white vinegar
  • 1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place cooked meatballs in a casserole. Mix all sauce ingredients and pour over. Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour till bubbly. This can also be heated in a crockpot. Check your unit’s directions for temps and times. Serve over noodles with some buttered corn or green vegetable and crusty bread.

hamburger upside-down casserole
This is my mother’s recipe—simple yet delicious. The kids will gobble this right up.

Boil 1½ cups elbow macaroni or small shells according to box directions to make about 3 cups. Drain and set aside. Spray a 9 x 13” baking pan or large casserole dish with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350°.

In a skillet over medium heat, brown:

  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 lb lean hamburger
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp dried (or rubbed) sage
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper

Add two 8-oz cans plain tomato sauce to meat mixture and bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Place in the prepared pan or dish. In a large bowl, mix 8 oz of shredded sharp cheddar with the macaroni. Place on top of meat mixture.

Beat 3 eggs with ¾ cups milk and pour over entire mix. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and grated Romano or Parmesan cheese.

Cover and bake for 25 minutes, then uncover and bake 15 minutes more till brown and bubbly.

TIP: If you’re as busy as I am, you forget to defrost things for supper like ground meat or stews and end up with a solid block of ice staring at you at 5 p.m.! Solution? Invest in some good quality zip-seal bags and pack your ground meat flat to fill the entire bag and seal well. A half-inch thick quart-size bag of ground meat will defrost in an hour, or much less if you set it under that faucet and run cold water over it for a while. Same with stew or soup. Fill a large bag about ¾-full. Seal carefully, pressing out the air, then lay it flat in the freezer. No microwave defrosting disasters. So easy to make a last minute meal decision!

white bean and chicken slow-cooker chili
This hearty dish is so easy to prepare and if made ahead, gets better when refrigerated overnight. Go ahead and freeze the leftovers.

Brown 1 large chopped onion in 2 Tbs light olive oil over medium-high heat. When onion is translucent, add 2 chopped garlic cloves, 2 lbs ground chicken, and 1 tsp salt. Cook about ten minutes, stirring often.

Now add:

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbs chili powder

Stir constantly until spices are very fragrant, being careful not to burn. Deglaze pan with ¼ cup of lime juice, scraping off brown bits from the bottom of the pan, then add 32 oz chicken broth. Mix well and place in a 3½-quart slow-cooker. Next, add 30 oz of white beans (cannelini), drained and rinsed, and mix well. Cook on low setting for at least four hours. Pass the shredded Monterey Jack, sour cream, and pickled jalapenos. Serve with warm flour tortillas.

marsha’s hamburger pie
When I lived in Silver Spring, Maryland, Marsha and her family lived in the apartment below us. She was a true Southern Belle and the cousin of actress Stella Stevens. Marsha made this for me once when I was down with a bad cold. Believe me, the flavors came through as this is very tasty. You do have to make your own pie crust for this one, but it is totally worth it. You can find Cousin Ralph’s Magical Piecrust recipe at the end of the Memorial Day post in this blog.

Ingredients

  • 1 Cousin Ralph’s top and bottom piecrust, prepared (see directions)
  • ½ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 2 or 3 dashes cayenne pepper
  • 1½ lbs ground chuck
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 can beef bouillon (1¼ cups)
  • 1½ cups dry unseasoned bread crumbs
  • ½ tsp each salt and black pepper
  • ¼ tsp each dried thyme and marjoram
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Directions
Preheat oven to 375°. Prepare pie crust adding cheese, paprika, and cayenne to the flour before stirring into shortening mixture. Divide crust in two, roll out and place in a pie pan. Cook onion and beef in a skillet till browned. Mix bread crumbs and bouillon and let sit a few minutes. Add beef mixture and remaining ingredients. Mix well, and pour into pie shell. Roll remaining crust and put over top. Pinch to seal edges. Cut vents.

Bake on the lowest shelf of your oven to set bottom crust. Bake 45 minutes or more till golden brown. Brushing the top crust with whole beaten egg imparts of wonderful sheen and makes your dish look like it was prepared by the finest chef!

PRINT THIS POST! HERE’S THE LINK:  CJ-7-3-14-GROUND MEAT

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