How to Properly Cook Ground Beef, in Pictures
Cooking ground beef on the stove top seems simple enough, but so much can go wrong. Have you ever crowded the pan too much, and found yourself with rubbery, steamed ground beef? Does your beef seep out a ton of liquid, or do you struggle to chop the meat up into bite-size pieces, resulting in "meat rocks" (as one editor's boyfriend hilariously dubs it)? If cooking perfectly ground beef eludes you, have no fear. These pictures will show you how to properly brown ground beef — or any ground meat, for that matter — so that your tacos, tomato sauce, and sloppy joes turn out tasty every time.
Heat the Pan
Before searing the meat, preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. This is an 8-inch skillet and it can cook a half to one pound of beef. Use a 10-inch or 12-inch pan to accommodate more meat. You do not want to crowd the pan or else the meat will steam.
Sear the Meat
Once the pan is heated through, add the ground beef to the middle of the pan. Don't start chopping it! Allow it to sear for about two minutes, or until it browns. When it has thoroughly seared, it should easily release from the pan with the help of a spatula.
Flip and Sear the Other Side
When the meat has seared on one side, flip it and sear the other side for about two minutes.
Chop It Up
Once the meat has seared on each side, quickly chop it up using a metal spatula. Spread the meat out, so it has room to sear rather than steam. Don't touch the meat for about one minute to allow the uncooked pieces to sear.
Cook Until No Pink Remains
Flip the meat once, chop the pieces into even smaller bits, and expose all the pink pieces to the bottom of the pan. Again, don't touch the meat for another minute to let those pieces sear.
If you see any pink in the meat, continue cooking, otherwise immediately turn off the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Use in Other Recipes
Use the cooked meat in tacos, marinara sauce, or sloppy joes, or any other recipe that calls for ground beef.