Ground that beef

Few things say American cooking like the use of ground beef.  Its versatility allows us to dress it up or down to any degree, while keeping a sense of familiarity.  Growing up, many nights of the week we had dinner with ground beef, it was quick, it was easy, and you can make anything with it from spaghetti and meatballs to burritos to burgers.

Meatloaf is a classic.  Everyone has a recipe for it, and it’s really hard to screw up.  Most people take the easy way out and buy the spice packets and follow the easy directions.  I’m not knocking it; it worked fine for my family growing up.  I just prefer to avoid unnecessary salt and preservatives, especially with meatloaf being a naturally greasy entrée.  The fun part of adding your own spices is, you don’t have to season it the same way every time.  This specific recipe I made last week, and turned out particularly good, so I’m passing it on.

In a previous post, I gave you recipe for a dry rub that I had said worked well in anything.  Meatloaf is no exception.  I normally use more seasoning than this, but the rub has so much in it already that it eliminated a need for anything else.  While we’re on the topic of ingredients, where there is ground beef, there must also be Worcestershire sauce.  Anything that makes beef taste beefier is a friend of mine.  The W finds its way into anything I make with beef, be it spaghetti sauce, burgers, pot roast, you get the idea.  It’s a welcome addition to my kitchen.

Meatloaf my way.
Meatloaf my way.


  • 1 lb. Ground beef
  • 1 lb. Ground spicy sausage
  • 1 Tbsp. Joe’s Dry Rub
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Cup BBQ sauce of your choosing, divided

Combine everything but the BBQ sauce in a large bowl, mixing well pat into two loaf pans, spreading the BBQ sauce on top.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

This next one combines two of my favorite things: soup, and cheeseburgers.  Luckily, it doesn’t involve French onion soup mix, and is surprisingly simple.  Most of the work is in preparing the onions, but it’s completely worth the effort.  Once those get fully underway, the rest takes no time at all.  The original recipe called for Gruyere instead of block Parmesean, since that’s what is traditionally used for French Onion Soup.  However, since I had a hard time finding it, I went with the Parmesean, and threw in some extra mozzarella for texture.

A classic soup and sandwich combination is one of my favorite meals, though I don’t think I would have managed to connect the two quite this way.  Sure, who doesn’t love a chili dog? But putting the two together without a dripping, horrendous mess, that wouldn’t come from my brain.  At the same time, as I read the recipe, I think about the harmony of the flavors in the two dishes and say to myself, “How did I not think of that?”  I really enjoyed how lovely this came together, the flavors are smoky, beefy, and hinting at sweet.  Dijon really helps to pull it all together.

A soup flavored sandwich.
A soup flavored sandwich.

French Onion Burgers

  • 2 Tbsp. Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 C low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp + 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 lb. Ground beef
  • 1 tsp. Onion powder
  • 4 hamburger buns, split
  • 4 oz shredded Parmesan
  • 1 C shredded mozzarella
  • Dijon mustard

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion and stir until it starts to brown, about 4 minutes.  Add sugar and salt, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally until deep golden brown, 15 more minutes.

Add the chicken broth and 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce and simmer until the most of the liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes.

Preheat the broiler.  Mix the beef, onion powder and remaining Worcestershire sauce in a bowl.  Form into 3/4-inch thick patties and place on the broiler pan, making an indent in the  center of each patty with your thumb.  Broil for five minutes, turning once.

Place the buns cut side up on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with both cheeses and broil until melted, only a minute or two.  Spread mustard on the buns, load with burgers and onions, and desired vegetables.

As you all know, there’s oodles of things you can do with a couple pounds of ground beef.  Add some Worcestershire sauce, an onion, a bell pepper, and a clove of garlic, and there’s a dozen different directions you can go with it.  Any spot on the map can inspire a dinner with those ingredients.  A skillet is a great way to go globetrotting.

Tip of the week:  For quick and easy meatballs, buy sausage of your spiciness or flavor of your choosing, but buy it in its casings.  Cut an opening in one end, and squeeze about one-to-two-inch drops into a hot skillet.  No rolling, no mixing, just ready to go.