Watching Mario Batali

So a few years back, I had some major surgery which led me to be strapped to the bed (not literally, of course) for about six weeks. And that gave me ample time to watch each and every episode of each and every show the Food Network ever produced. It led to some happy discoveries (Giada DeLaurentis) and some overload (Rachel Ray). I learned a lot, but one of the tricks I learned that ended up being the most useful is how to brown ground beef as taught by Mario Batali. Sadly, his shows aren’t on the Food Network anymore. So I’m telling you this trick just in case you missed it the first time around.

How to brown ground beef. DSCN0143You think you know this, but you don’t. The other night I was making spaghetti sauce and snapped a couple of photos to show you the difference between “gray” ground beef and “browned” ground beef. First off, I should say always use chuck. 80/20 lean to fat. You know, fat equals flavor. So you put the beef in the pan and start to “browning”. When all the pink is gone, you think you’re done. But no, sir or madam, you are not.

DSCN0144Observe photo above. This is “gray.” Now observe photo to the right. This is “browned.” You can see the areas of the beef that have caramelized. If you think about cooking a regular hamburger, there’s that wonderful brown crust on the outside that serves up all the flavor. Same principal. Now, you can’t brown ground beef until it’s all brown, so to speak, because you’d just have little nobbins of crispy. It needs to be a mix of crispy and not. You’ll also notice in the photo on the right that there are now browned bits in the bottom of the pan. Yummy bits. Just add a little liquid (red wine is my choice when I’m making spaghetti sauce) and the bits get incorporated into the meat.

I’m sure Mario is surfing the Web just waiting to discover that some temporarily incapacitated women in Brentwood, Tennessee, gleaned this pearl of wisdom between taking her pain meds. Or not.

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