Ground Beef and Gravy—Comfort Food that Saves a No-Good-Rotten-Day
I think when we look back on it, 2020 is going to be the year of comfort food. I have a friend who has a wonderful website and is an amazing resource for everything low carb and keto. (Transparency – She’s also a client at my day job.) I’ve been helping her recently and we’ve looked at her stats and finally, I just said, I don’t think most people want any deprivation right now. They’ll be there when the tide turns and it will. If you are ready to go low carb, head her way, she’s got you covered.
Yesterday, I had one of those days where nothing was working right. Recently, two of our teenagers had probable exposure, so they have been quarantining in our home. This means that they are in the rooms all day, with their windows open. They come out only to use their shared restroom. I deliver their meals as if they are sickly Victorian-era children, and we wear masks if we have to be near each other for any reason. This one hundred percent sucks. I miss my own kids in my own home. Yes, I text with them constantly, but it’s not the same, and I resent everything about this. I resent every single person who has perpetuated this pandemic by downplaying the severity or refusing to do their part to reduce the spread. I know by any standard, this is just a minor inconvenience.
I am grateful that so far no one seems sick and tomorrow they are getting tested.
What does this have to do with comfort food?
I looked at this week’s menu and said meh.
Ground beef—mince if you’re British or Australian—and gravy has been something my family has made since I was a kid. We grew up on it because money was tight. The great thing about this extremely simple dish is that it is stretchable, not much beef on hand? That’s ok throw in some lentils and a little extra stock. Want to fancy it up a bit, my-my aren’t you flush with cash? Add some mushrooms. Do what you want, it’ll be right there to replace the love you need.
Serve it over egg noodles, rice, mashed potatoes, or even a thick slice of bread, open sandwich style.
This is just comfort food, it's filling and satisfying and in our family, it seems to help fix a bad day. It doesn't take much energy to prepare, it can be made with freezer and pantry staples so, for us, it usually doesn't require a trip to the store. It's cheaper than fast food and doesn't have a big clean up factor, either.
This is one of those meals that each of my children will know by heart before leaving home. It's a great starting point for any beginner, it's very forgiving and even if you made the best version of your life, it'll never be pretty. It's beef and gravy, it'll never win any beauty contests.
This recipe can be modified by adding mushrooms.
It can be made a bit fancier by using stew beef and cooking slowly. A little red wine for some of the beef stock would not hurt anyone.
1 - 1.5 pounds ground beef (Preferably 85% lean, the fat makes the gravy, if you have very lean beef, you may need to add butter)
Salt and pepper to taste (go easy on the salt with commercial stocks/broths/bases)
Over medium to medium-high heat brown the beef and break it into small bits with a wooden spoon or spatula.
While the beef is browning, dice your onion and mince your garlic. As the beef begins to lose most of the pink and is beginning to approach a uniform appearance, add the diced onions and continue cooking.
Add the garlic as the onions begin to soften.
Once the onions are nearly translucent, sprinkle the 1/4 cup flour as evenly as possible across the browned meat.
Stir well to coat the meat with the flour. This step will prevent lumps in your gravy. You may notice a brown layer on the bottom of your pan, this is ok, reduce the heat a little to prevent it from scorching. This is called fond and will help increase the flavor.
Slowly add your beef broth a quarter to a half cup at a time, using your wooden spoon to scrape up any fond from the pan and incorporate the liquid into your mixture.
The liquid will practically disappear between additions at first. This is expected.
Turn the heat to low and finish adding your liquid. Stir until fully incorporated.
Do not let your beef and gravy come to a boil.
Taste and salt and pepper to your preference and serve over your choice of any of the following:
egg noodles, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, rice, or even cauliflower rice (for a lower carb alternative)