Growing up my mother had a pretty set relationship with ground beef. You used it for a set number of dishes: hamburgers, meatballs, and stuffed cabbage. The only one of the three that was, what I as a young child, considered palatable was the stuffed cabbage. The hamburgers were, like any other meat, either still mooing or tasted like shoe leather. The meatballs were normally dry and tasteless and were not even craved by our dog Puggy. In her stuffed cabbage, however, somehow she managed to transform this everyday kind of ingredient into something special. I no longer have her recipe or I would share it with you. What I do remember is the way in which she was able to transform her ground beef into something memorable.
The other day, we had some unexpected company for dinner and the one protein I had on hand that night was a pound of ground beef. So here I sat with about 30 minutes notice with a fairly empty frig and feeling like I was on chopped. My basket ingredients were: leeks, ground beef, limes, and Patak’s spicy ginger and garlic tandoori paste. So what did I turn out in my 30 minutes?
Indian inspired ground beef and rice.
As I was making this up as I went along, I am not completely mindful of how I made it, but here is what I do remember
I began by making a pot of jasmine rice. I always have a bag of it in my pantry. So while the rice was going, I began working on the mystery ingredients
So I began by cleaning, chopping and sautéing the three leeks that I had in my refrigerator and I got them sautéing in my pan for about 5 minutes. Then I added about 2 cloves of minced garlic. Then I added the ground beef and stirred this all until the ground beef was brown and crumbled. That is when my imagination began to kick in and I added a few spoonfuls of the tandoori paste and an 8 oz. can of tomato sauce. After seasoning it with a little salt and pepper, I realized it needed something acidic to liven things up a bit, so I squeezed the limes in (probably about 2-3 teaspoons of juice) and then added some lime zest. I had thought about adding some coconut milk and fish sauce and making it kind of Thai, but alas my pantry was not as well stocked as the pantry on chopped.
So with a little trepidation, I served my Indian style ground beef (doesn’t something sound wrong with this title) over jasmine rice. Much to my surprise, my guests loved it and thought I had slaved over this dish for hours.
What this whole experience taught me is that I needed to trust my creativity and my knowledge and understanding of foods. I need to follow my inspirations and know I can create something with a common ingredient (ground beef) in a way one might never have envisioned it before. Maybe that is why I love chopped so much. You have to tap into your creativity and follow your inspiration and intuition.
While I doubt I will ever see this dish on the menu at any Indian restaurant, what is important is that it came from my heart and soul and my guests enjoyed it. Their only complaint was that I had not made more then enough to serve the 4 who were at the table.
As best as I can recall the ingredients were:
- · 3 leeks cleaned and chopped
- · 2-cloves of garlic minced.
- · 1 lb. lean ground beef
- · 3 tablespoons Patak’s spicy ginger and garlic tandoori paste
- · 8 oz. tomato sauce
- · 2-3 teaspoons lime juice
- · 1 lime zest
I might have left something off as I am writing this from memory. What for me is more important then the dish itself is the lesson about allowing yourself to be creative and trust your inspiration and intuition.