The best ground beef recipes stem from chili, meatballs and lasagna. The versatility of these dishes and their history as potluck crowd pleasers make them perennial favorites.
If ground beef is one of the meal's primary ingredients, fresh ground beef should be used to give the meal the best possible flavor. When ground beef is less of a focus, such as when it is used in a casserole or a sauce, frozen meat can be used without much difference in flavor.
Chili comes in an infinite variety of styles. Traditional ground beef versions can be served with or without beans. Ingredients, especially spices, can be adjusted according to one's taste. Well-suited to parties and family gatherings, chili is often topped with condiments such as chopped onions, cheese, sour cream and oyster crackers.
Meatballs are an excellent ground beef option because they can be served as part of a meal or as an appetizer. Many cultures use meatballs in their cooking; Italian and Swedish dishes commonly feature meatballs along with a pasta course. Meatballs range in size from small to large. Like chili, meatballs are a common choice at parties because they can easily be kept warm and transported in a slow cooker.
Lasagna with ground beef is an Italian classic. Available at virtually any Italian restaurant, the dish is also served in many homes. Favorite recipes are often found in family cookbooks and passed down from generation to generation. Like chili and meatballs, lasagna is a flexible recipe. It can be made with a number of options such as Italian sausage, and flavor can be modified by using homemade tomato sauce.
Dipping the hands in cold water before handling ground beef prevents it from sticking to the hands. It is also important to handle the meat gently. Ground beef shrinks more the higher the cooking temperature is, so cooking the meat longer at a moderate temperature works most effectively. Ground beef with a higher fat content tends to shrink more than leaner meats.
The juices in ground beef give it flavor. Ground beef should not be overcooked, because this will cause the juices to evaporate. It also shouldn't be pressed down while cooking, as this presses out the juices. Frozen ground beef should be thawed before cooking, as the meat's juices freeze to ice crystals.