I dont much like cooking with ground meat. Its super-easy, of course. Just toss in the skillet and brown, then proceed with spices, sauces, chopped vegetables, etc. But for a weeknight supper, Id rather saute some chicken or cook pasta. Faced with a pound of ground beef or chicken, Id prefer to make meatballs or meatloaf, but either takes too long.
Maybe that aversion was really boredom. Because when I stumbled upon an Asian-flavored treatment for ground beef on Epicurious.com, the flagging spirit and taste buds were stimulated. To the umami-rich dish I added a crispy slaw, featuring a vinaigrette scented with one of my favorite tastes, sesame oil.
From this exercise in tinkering, you can riff on your own. Bok choy would be a good sub for the slaw, either finely sliced small heads, or chopped and briefly sauteed larger heads. Orange or tangerine juice would be sweet subs for the lime. Or try some toasted ground peanuts on top.
GROUND BEEF WITH ASIAN SLAW
Prep: 15 minutes; cook: 25 minutes; servings: 4
2 cups water
1 cup white rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon each: Worcestershire sauce, sugar, soy sauce
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 pound lean ground beef (or chicken, turkey or pork)
8 leaves napa cabbage, finely julienned
2 carrots, shredded
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon each: canola oil, lime juice, rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon each: mirin, soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
Fresh cilantro leaves
1. Heat water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat; stir in rice and salt. When water returns to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Cover; allow to simmer, 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, for the sauce, whisk the lime juice, Worcestershire, sugar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and cayenne together in a small bowl.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; cook the ground beef until browned, breaking it up with a spatula, 8 minutes. Drain off excess fat; stir in the sauce. Lower heat to a simmer; allow to simmer so that flavors marry, 3 minutes.
4. For the slaw, place napa cabbage and carrots in a large bowl. Whisk the remaining ingredients (except cilantro) together in a bowl; toss with the vegetables. Serve the slaw over the rice, topping with the beef. Sprinkle with cilantro.
Nutrition per serving: 459 calories, 16 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 59 mg cholesterol, 50 g carbohydrates, 27 g protein, 1,000 mg sodium, 2 g fiber.