Having a limited food budget is not a bad thing. In fact, it makes sense no matter how much money you have. The tighter your budget is – and the more expensive food is, in the country you live in – the more creative you have to become. Here in Luxembourg one budget buy is ground beef (also called minced meat). Organic is a good choice, and fresh directly from the organic butcher in Rollingergrund is my favorite choice.
I cook with ground beef about every second day – and no, it does not get boring. Simply vary what you make out of it and your taste buds will love it.
Here are 7 suggestions, popular in my house, for ground beef dishes. I’m sure you can come up with even more. This is a looooooong post…
1. Meat sauce
Of course we have to start with this one! A classic dish. Add in vegetables (grated carrots), mushrooms, a can or two of tomatoes, maybe some coconut milk, herbs and salt and pepper. Let simmer for at least half an hour. Serve with spaghetti squash when in season, or other vegetables the rest of the year.
2. stuffed savoy cabbage
Easier than you’d think to make. Boil the cabbage leaves for a minute in salted water and let them cool down before filling with the (raw) ground beef. Fry in a pan and in the end you can add coconut milk, dried mushrooms and cranberries. Let simmer for another 10-15 minutes to make a nice sauce. Serve with boiled carrots, green beans or sweet potato.
An egg, herbs, salt and ground beef makes a good base. Mix and roll little balls to fry in a pan. Vary by adding cumin / ground allspice / a spoon of fresh cream. You can also put the meatballs (un-cooked) on skewers together with vegetables and cook on a bbq grill or in your oven.
Similar to meatballs are what we in Sweden call pannbiff. Basically, they are bigger, flat, meatballs. However the size gives you a chance to vary them a bit more then meatballs. Add grated zucchini and chopped dried tomato for example. OR do a Swedish dish called “biff Lindström” by adding finely chopped boiled beetroot (one small beetroot per 500g ground beef), chopped onion, and capers (two tbsp.’s for that same amount).
In the original recipe the beetroot should be pickled. I use the just boiled ones to avoid the added sugar though and have to say I prefer this version.
Not just a name of a singer, but also a lovely and almost forgotten old dish. Far cheaper than making a big Sunday roast, and easier to succeed with.
Mix 800 g ground beef with one egg, salt and pepper. Use your hands to spread out to a flat cake on a piece of parchment paper, and add a “filling”. I like the combination of fresh baby spinach and dried prunes (slightly chopped to smaller pieces).
Roll up, place in a slightly oiled ovenproof form. Add a few chopped onions around the meatloaf and drizzle a bit of red wine over the whole thing.
Bake for about 45 minutes in 180-200 C. Towards the end you can brush over the meatloaf with a piece of butter and let that melt over the meat.
6. mini meatloaves
This is a variation of a Swedish dish called järpar. Järpar is basically long meatballs. I like to fill them, similar to a meatloaf, and this is how you do that. Start the same way as when making meatloaf by spreading the ground beef with your hands. Cut the flat cake into squares. Place filling on each square. Roll up and form them to a roll.
I used the same filling here, spinach and prunes, but you can vary with onions, pickles, dried tomatoes…. Fry in a pan – similar to when making meatballs. Here above served with kale and tomatoes.
7. minced meat salad
This is the quickest of all these dishes. Simply fry ground beef in a bit of butter or coconut oil. Add a few pieces of slightly boiled broccoli (Salted water, 2-3 minutes). Salt, pepper and basil for taste. Turn off stove and add baby spinach and cherry tomatoes. Grate Parmesan cheese over everything. My husband and I ate this directly out of the pan with two forks one evening. Bar-stools at the kitchen counter and a glass of red wine. Date night!
OK that was seven. And I haven’t even mentioned moussaka – a Mediterranean dish similar to lasagna – but with aubergine or (sweet)potatoes instead of pasta. So you see – the list goes on….
Have fun cooking – and enjoy!