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Cooking with the Ground Beef According to Ratio of Fat

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

There are four types of ground beef, and each comes from a different part of the cow. They vary in fat percentage, tenderness, and taste. Each type has a slightly different texture, too, so when it comes to recipes, you want to choose the right type for your dish.

What Do Percentages Mean?

When you look in your grocer’s meat case you’ll find four types of ground beef: 70 percent, 80 percent, 90 percent, and 96 percent lean. The percentage signifies the ratio of fat. Ground chuck comes from the shoulder of the cow and usually contains 15 to 20 percent fat. It’s tender and offers a rich flavor perfect for hamburgers. Ground sirloin usually comes from the area between the midsection and hip of the cow and has between 7 and 10 percent fat content. The flavor of sirloin is good, but for dishes like burgers, it can be a little dry. It is better used in dishes that include sauce of some sort.

Ground round is taken from the rump and rear upper leg and usually has fat content of 10 to 20 percent. Ground round has a tougher texture but works well in casseroles and meat pies. If you pick up a package of ground hamburger meat that isn’t labeled as any of the above, it is a combination of two or more cuts, and the fat content may run as high as 30 percent. Because of the higher fat content, this is the least nutritious option.

Cooking with Beef

Beef is one of America’s favorites. As you create savory dishes, beef is best paired with aged cheeses, bacon, barbecue sauce, bell peppers, garlic, mushrooms, mustard, onions, peppercorns, red wine, sour cream, soy sauce, thyme, tomatoes, and Worcestershire sauce. Here are two easy recipes that do just that:

Chili Meatball Sandwich

Meatball Mixture ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground chuck
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 small grated onion
  • 1 tsp. garlic
  • 16 whole grain crackers, crushed fine
  • 1/3 cup water


  • 1 can condensed tomato soup
  • 1 tsp. chili powder (or more if you prefer spicier)
  • 1 soup can water
  • Bring to a boil


  1. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl with onion and water
  2. Add ground beef and work together
  3. Form into balls
  4. Drop into boiling soup and cook for 3 minutes
  5. Pour into baking dish at bake at 350 for 40 minutes

Serve topped with grated mozzarella cheese on crusty whole grain bread

Green Peppers, Tomatoes, and Beef on Rice


  • 1 lb. ground sirloin
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 12 oz. sliced mushrooms (optional)
  • 1 #10 can of diced tomatoes
  • 4 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Brown ground sirloin and onion drain any grease released.
  2. Add bell pepper and mushrooms cook for about 5 minutes
  3. Add tomatoes with juice
  4. Simmer for 20 minutes

Add enough water to the cornstarch to make a thin paste. Stir into the green peppers, tomatoes and beef to thicken. Serve over rice. Season with soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and enjoy!

Photo credit: Flickr