Ground beef that tastes “meatier” and is healthier, too? This kitchen hack tastes great and, at the same time, stretches a pound of ground beef through the addition of a simple box of mushrooms.
When mushrooms are sautéed for several minutes beyond the point at which their liquid has been released, they develop a meaty, umami-rich quality that adds an extra layer of flavor along with an added dose of fiber and nutrients.
To make them meld into the meat, they just need to be chopped very finely. Although not required, a food processor makes quick work of this step. A little onion and a few seasonings add the finishing touch.
While I don’t always use this trick when I cook ground beef, it’s a great card to hold in your hand, ready to play when you want an option that’s a little healthier or offers a more complex flavor…or when you simply need to stretch a pound of meat.
The funny thing is that my younger son, who isn’t a fan of mushrooms, always thinks recipes that incorporate this clever hack taste especially good!
Yield: The equivalent of 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (To apply this concept to a variety of recipes, figure 2 parts ground beef to 1 part mushrooms.)
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/2 pound button, baby bella, or cremini mushrooms, cleaned*
- 1/2 a large onion
- Olive oil for pan
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, optional
- Quarter the mushrooms and roughly chop the onion, and then pulse in a food processor until the mixture resembles large crumbs. Optionally, you may mince the mushrooms and onions by hand. The food processor just makes quick work of this job.
- Over medium heat sauté the onion and the mushrooms in a skillet coated with couple of teaspoons of olive oil, stirring occasionally, until the moisture has cooked out of the mushrooms and the mixture is starting to caramelize, about 10 minutes. At this point, add the ground beef and sauté, stirring and breaking up the meat, for another 5 minutes or until the meat is browned. While the beef is cooking, sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- *Even though conventional wisdom says not to wash mushrooms, I do. They are often quite dirty and sautéing them will cook out all of the moisture anyway.
Finely chopping the mushrooms and onion allows them to blend seamlessly into the ground beef. Cooking the veggies down before adding the meat is a must in order to bring out their meaty texture and umami-rich flavor.
The proportions of this recipe can be increased or decreased as needed. Figure on 8 ounces of mushrooms and half an onion to each pound of ground beef. This amount will give you the equivalent of 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef.