As a menu staple, ground beef is economical, versatile and satisfying. Use ethnic upgrades, flavor enhancements and unique presentations
to give it added appeal.
There are some days when your customers crave meat and only a big juicy burger will do! That's no surprise when you look at the most recent consumption statistics. Americans ate approximately 65 lbs. of beef per person in 2006 (the latest year for data) with almost half of it — 42% — made up of ground beef, according to the American Meat Institute and National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA).
And with meat prices in general rising, ground beef — and other ground meats — offer an economical way for operators to keep meat on the menu while still controlling food costs. Ground meat can star in a sandwich or appetizer or can serve a supporting role in soups, casseroles, and sauces, while adding a toothsome bite that satisfies even big appetites.
The Right Grind
Beef is king when you talk about ground meat in both foodservice and in consumer kitchens. And “there is a ground beef mix for everyone,” says David Zino, executive chef at NCBA. Not less than 73% lean is the most economical grind with the most natural fat, but Zino warns that you must drain the drippings. Use this grind for tacos, pasta sauce, and soup recipes.
“Grinds labeled not less than 80% also have some fat but provide added flavor for things like burgers and meatloaf,” he says. “Again, be sure to drain the cooked product,” he adds. And for recipes that specify very lean meat, use grinds labeled as not less than 85% lean. “This has very little drip so you need to add a little ‘love’ back in with egg white, and/or breadcrumbs,” says Zino. Use lean grinds for stuffed peppers and casseroles.
For the ultimate in labor saving convenience — and food safety — many operators are using fully cooked ground beef patties and crumbles. In fact, every school FSD FM spoke with uses not only pre-cooked patties and meatballs but pre-cooked meat sauces as well.
And where the menu is concerned, whether using fresh or pre-cooked, ground beef (or ground turkey, pork or lamb) recipes benefit from inspired toppings, flavorful mix-ins and unique presentations. Pique customer interest and boost sales by incorporating some of the ideas and recipes that follow.