Friday, February 22, 2013

it's 35 cents off of ground round . . .

baby cut that coupon out!!

Anybody else remember that terrifically horrible country song from the mid-oughts entitled "What I Love about Sunday"?  Nashville, the land of "new" country, tends to spin the same five or six songs on the big country radio stations, ensuring that everyone is good and sick of the earworms before the season is out.  "Sunday," a paean to relaxing on the front porch with your family after church on Sundays, was just such a song.  Jeff still discusses the thrill of the singer in instructing his wife to clip a coupon for 35 cents off ground round on one of these leisurely afternoons.  Gotta love it!

Anyway, you can't deny that ground beef is cheap.  In our meat CSA, we get a good mix of cuts, like pork chops, steaks, roasts, whole chickens, and chicken parts.  But we also get a good amount of sausage and ground beef.  When you think about eating the whole animal, it just makes sense.  We haven't been brave enough yet to delve into the deep dark land of eating organs, although I know they're really good for you.  But ground beef, made from the trimmings and other leftovers after the cuts are packaged, is a staple.  We pretty much always have it in the freezer.  We tend to eat the cuts first because they are . . . well . . . more exciting.  But not every night can be steak night.  Not every night can we slow-roast a chicken.

My three favorite things to do with ground beef are:

1)  Taco salad, or tacos, or whatever Mexican-ish thing I can make with ground beef and my taco seasoning.  I featured this on my Brewer Diet update post earlier this week.

2)  Pasta with meat sauce.  Surely you don't need a recipe.  I don't usually make my own tomato sauce.  It's actually one of the few ready-made foods that you can find with a short ingredient list, although it probably has too much salt and sugar.  If I got my behind in gear and canned my own tomatoes, I would totally make my own.

3)  Shepherd's pie.  Sort of like meatloaf but with all the sides included!  It's a winner.  Here's my recipe:

1/4 C butter, divided
1 lb ground beef
2 onions, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 sprig rosemary, leaves stripped and chopped (which I totally steal off my neighbor's bush as I'm walking home from the bus stop.  I hate buying fresh herbs.  Biggest rip-off)
1/2 C fresh or frozen peas
1 C chicken stock
1 T tomato paste
2 lbs potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2-inch cubes
1/2 C whole milk
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper

Preheat oven to 350.

Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cool water.  Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt half the butter (2 T) in a big cast-iron skillet over medium heat.  Stir in onion, carrot, and rosemary.  Let it cook 10 minutes or so, until very tender.  Add the peas and the ground beef to the skillet.  Break up the beef and stir it frequently, until it is cooked through (about another 10 minutes).  Stir in chicken stock and tomato paste and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Turn the heat off.

Drain the potatoes and mash them with the milk, salt, pepper and remaining 2 T butter.  Spread the mashed potatoes over the ground beef mixture.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, until nicely browned on top.

I love, love, love this meal because it is dead cheap, and I usually have everything on hand in the freezer, fridge, and pantry.  You can also make it ahead up to the baking point, and then just pull it out and bake it the next night for dinner.

4)  This doesn't include ground beef, but my absolute favorite pennies-per-serving meal is red beans and sausage.  Served with rice or cornbread.

Now go save some money!

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