Post #421 6 Hamburger Things Everyone Will Love

September 30, 2015 at 1:06 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post #421 6 Hamburger Things Everyone Will Love

I’ve been a hamburger fan from way back.  One of my earliest memories was getting to eat a hamburger in the living room while watching the movie “Godzilla” on television.  A glass of red Kool-Aid and potato chips completed the meal and we all thought that was just about the best thing ever.  But hamburger, or ground beef, can be used on so many other ways.  Here are some of my favorites that have never failed me.  It takes a little effort for this:

Ground-Beef 1

to become this:

groundbeef

Hamburger Thing 1 – Spaghetti Sauce

I’ve written about spaghetti sauce several times before, but it belongs in the list because it’s a no fail sauce.  It’s tasty, versatile, and with just small tweaks in spices, can be anything you need.  I used to make the sauce from scratch, then moved to canned tomatoes.  Then I moved on to jarred sauces which I then added to, and recently have gone back to canned tomatoes.  The premise for all of them is basically the same.  Fry up a pound or two of hamburger in a skillet and drain the fat.  Add two cans of chopped tomatoes with the juice, and a small can of tomato paste, along with two cups of water.  Add some oregano, basil, garlic, and onion, and simmer for a few hours until all the water has evaporated off.   You’re left with a thick, meaty, flavorful red sauce that stretches to anything you need.  Vary the pasta and you can make spaghetti, beef a roni, stuffed shells, or ravioli.  You can use it to fill larger shaped pasta, or in baked pastas like lasagna.  It can even be spread on dough and used as a pizza sauce!  Switch up the spice palate to the spicier side and you can turn this same sauce into chili con carne.  Adding cooked macaroni turns that into chili mac.  Just don’t try to turn an already existing Italian flavored sauce into a spicier sauce for chili.  I’ve never been able to make that work.

Hamburger Thing 2 – Macaroni and Cheeseburger

This is actually a variation of the above, but kind of sort of not.  Years ago, one of the processed foods companies came up with several packaged mixes to add to your own ground beef.  It started as spaghetti and moved on to others.  They didn’t taste very good since the freeze-dried portions of the mixes didn’t reconstitute very well, and the choices of spices weren’t the best and had a chemical taste to them.  One that seemed to work well was Cheeseburger Macaroni.  Basically, it was mac and cheese with fried hamburger in it.  It was moderately okay, for hungry pre-teens, it was good.  Once my palate evolved and I knew what really tasted good, almost all pre-fab dinners went away.  Except, once in a while, when I’m really wanting some comfort food, boxed mac and cheese fits the bill.  I nearly always dress it up, though.  Added veggies, nuts, seeds, meats, until it’s more a casserole instead of a box mix.  The basic is fry up your hamburger.  I season it heavily with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and sometimes chili powder.  I fry it all up until it’s one large hamburger, then I break it into large pieces.  I use a slotted spoon and pull out the meat and save the grease and juices for the dogs’ dinner.  As the meat is cooling off, I make the mac and cheese.  Once it’s done and mixed, I put the meat into the mac and cheese and stir thoroughly.  It’s ready to eat.  Sometimes, though, I add extra cheeses, or cooked veggies, or nut and seeds and toss it into the oven to bake for half an hour or so until the top is bubbly and brown.  Sometimes, I’ll crush cheese crackers for a topping.  I’ve been known to eat three large bowls of this stuff.

Hamburger Thing 3 – Porcupine Meatballs

Meatballs are the easiest things to make, once you know how.  For years, I struggled with shaping the meatballs and frying them in a pan where they’d lose their shape, or not cook completely through.  Then, out of the blue, I thought, why not bake them?  Works perfectly!  Make your favorite meatball recipe, shape them, put them on a baking sheet WITH a side to catch the drippings, bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, place in a sauce or other recipe, and eat.  Porcupine meatballs, though, have to be made on the stove top in a large skillet so the sauce can catch all the meat drippings and flavors.  Make your favorite meatball recipe, whatever it is, and add 1/4 cup uncooked rice to the mix.  In a large skillet over medium-high heat brown the meatballs on all sides.  Turn the heat down to medium-low.  Add one can of tomato paste, a tablespoon of brown sugar, a table spoon of dijon mustard, and two cups of water.  Add any herbs and spices to complement whatever meat you’re using and stir to mix thoroughly.  Cook for 30-45 minutes stirring every few minutes to keep anything from scorching.  Add water if the sauce gets too thick, but none during the last ten minutes.  As the rice cooks, it will start poking out of the meatballs giving the impression of a porcupine.  Serve with rice with the sauce spooned over it.

Hamburger Thing 4 – Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff is typically made with beef chunks of medium quality, much like stew meat.  It’s cooked for a longer time allowing the meat to become tender and the flavors to blend.  However, if you don’t time or a roast to cut up, hamburger makes a fine substitution.  Brown the hamburger over medium heat, remove to a bowl, and drain juices leaving two tablespoons.  Melt two tablespoons of butter in the pan with the meat juices and brown 2 cups of slices mushrooms and on medium onion chopped.  Add two cloves of minced garlic.  Add 1 1/2 cups of beef broth, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, and salt and pepper to taste.  Add meat back to the pan and simmer for 30 minutes for flavors to blend.  Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of flour lightly over the mixture and stir to combine and prevent lumps.  When the sauce has thickened, remove from heat.  Add 1 cup of sour cream or plain yogurt stirring to combine well and keep from curdling.  Serve immediately over noodles or rice or mashed potatoes.  It’s good stuff.

stroganoff

Hamburger Thing 5 – Meatloaf

You knew if I was talking about hamburger meatloaf had to be in the discussion, right?  I like meatloaf although I didn’t used to.  When my mom made it when we were kids, it always had way too many onion for me.  And for some reason, my mom and dad liked the bitterest onions they could find.  At least, it seemed like it to me.  But my tastes mellowed and I got to enjoy it.  Then I started making my own and experimenting.  I followed my mom’s recipe, then the recipe on the onion soup mix box, then started branching out.  Nowadays, I follow whatever is in the pantry.  Meatloaf is simply flavored hamburger with a binder that’s been baked until it’s done.  I once had something at a restaurant that was billed as “Grilled Meatloaf”.  It sounded intriguing so I ordered it.  Big mistake.  It was a slice of cooked meatloaf that was put on the grill to get a grill flavor to it.  Not a bad idea, but they added their “personal spice rub” to the outside of the meatloaf so its flavors battled each other to point of inedibility.  I ate everything else, but couldn’t eat the meatloaf.  They still charge me for it.  These days, I mix the ground beef with other ground meats if I have them.  I add my own spice blend which includes garlic and onion powder as well as a little cumin and nutmeg.  Sometimes I add finely chopped pecans or walnuts, or sunflower seeds, but not a lot.  Sometimes, I’ll add a small can of chopped tomatoes.  Sometimes, I’ll grate a potato and/or a carrot and add that.  Sometimes I’ll add stuffing mix as a breading filler.  Once it’s done, I’ll shape it into a loaf on a sheet pan with a raised edge and cover the load with ketchup.  I bake it at 375 for 30-45 minutes until it’s done.  My meatloaf is seldom the same way twice in a row.  Matter of fact, very little of what I cook is ever the same way twice in a row.  But it’s usually pretty good.

Hamburger Thing 6 – Hamburgers!  Just Kidding, Tacos!

Really, I grew up with tacos made from hamburger.  It was until I was on my own that I started using roasts and steaks and other kinds of meats.  So, for me, tacos as a comfort food can only be made from hamburger and never with any kind of spice on it.  It’s basically a hamburger in a corn tortilla.  My mom and dad both would fry the tortilla in oil briefly on each side so they were hot and soft.  We’d sit as a family at the table with a bowl of hamburger, a bowl of cheese, a bowl of tomatoes, and a bowl of lettuce.  There was a plate with stack of fried tortillas in between layers of paper napkins to sop up the excess oil.  Then, one by one, we’d each build our taco to our own specification and chow down.  I still prefer it that way.  But, I’ve eaten tacos with every imaginable filling, even beef tongue, which was pretty tasty.  Tacos are just meat and various fillings held together by a tortilla or flat bread.  But the ones made of hamburger with cheese, tomato, lettuce, and occasionally some salsa on a floppy warm corn tortilla sends me all the way back to age six.  I was building a taco and spooned up some tomatoes.  Immediately, all three adults admonished me (two parents, one older sister) to not take so much.  I tipped about half the tomatoes back to the bowl with regret.  I liked tomatoes.  Why shouldn’t I have that much?  Were they bad for me?  But if they were bad for me, why were they on the table to be eaten?  Mom told me years later that she could read every thought going through my head and had trouble no laughing out loud.  I finally decided that to make a “proper taco” you had to balance the tomatoes on the lettuce so they didn’t fall off and so you could only use a few.  I don’t do that anymore.

Enjoy

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