Ground beef is an excellent source of protein. It's easy to digest. Additionally, there are many ways to prepare it. However, what happens if it comes out chewy? If that's your concern, let's discuss the details.
There are a few reasons why your ground beef may be chewy. The three that come to mind are the quality of the meat, the cooking method, and the fat/protein content. We'll need to narrow down the culprit. It could be because of bad quality meat or overcooking.
There are a lot of steps involved in cooking exquisite ground beef. If you want to avoid the chewiness of meat, you'd have to correct the mistakes you make. However, finding the error is the hard part. If you'd like to go in-depth on the topic, keep reading!
Why Does Ground Beef Come Out Chewy?
As mentioned, we have to narrow down our options. The first area to look at is the quality of the meat. Maybe it was lying around in the fridge for a couple of days.
On the other hand, you could've bought it at the store. But it was sitting in the meat aisle for a while. It's always better to get fresh ground beef.
The clearest indicator of freshness is color. Fresh ground beef will be purple! Ground beef that is still relatively fresh will be red/pink in color. If you wait a few days, it will gradually turn gray.
Ground beef with gray coloration overall means it isn't good quality. At this point, the composition of the meat is degrading. Ground beef that's red on the outside but gray on the inside is standard.
It's also good to check the expiration date. Color alone isn't reliable enough. Packaged ground beef will usually hold its red color even as it's getting closer to spoiling.
In any case, it's better to cook ground beef right after you buy it. Otherwise, one to two days afterward is also good.
Protein/Fat Ratio And Cooking Times
The other two areas we'll have to address go hand-in-hand. First, look at the label for the ground beef you've purchased. It will typically specify the protein and fat content.
The two words to look for are lean and fat. A percentage will come after those words.
The percentages you'll see at stores are 80/20, 70/30, and 90/10. It tells you the amount of lean meat in the grind and the fat content.
Why does this matter? It matters because you'll have to change how you cook ground beef. The protein and fat ratio will determine how long you'll need to cook it.
Overcooked Extra Lean Ground Beef
If you're dealing with lean ground beef (85-90% lean), you'll want to avoid cooking it for too long. The moisture that comes out of the meat is the fat. Extra-lean ground beef doesn't have enough of it to retain moisture.
So, if you leave it in the pan for too long, it will come out chewy, dry, and tough. As a tip, you should never expect extra-lean ground beef to be juicy. It doesn't have enough fat content to do this.
Therefore, you should only use extra-lean ground beef if you rely on moisture from elsewhere. For example, you can make meatballs out of this ground beef.
To make it juicy, top it off with a sauce. Otherwise, it could go in the soup.
Ground Beef With Higher Fat Content
It's nearly impossible to mess up ground beef with high-fat content. There's enough fat to make the end product juicy and crisp. However, you could be messing it up.
If your high-fat ground beef comes out chewy, there's something wrong with how you cook it.
How To Brown Ground Beef Correctly
Everyone makes mistakes when it's their first time cooking ground beef. It isn't hard, but it's easy to mess up. If it was in the freezer, let it thaw out first.
Afterward, how you react to the sizzles matters most. Most people will break it up right away. It's the first mistake you could commit.
The second mistake is the size of the pan. If there isn't enough room for ground beef, you won't be cooking enough surface area. The result is bland, gray in color ground beef.
There's nothing wrong with it. However, it's not the texture you would want with it. It is essentially undercooked. In other words, you didn't take advantage of the flavor you could get out of it.
Covering Enough Surface Area
The correct way to brown ground beef is by not separating it immediately. Instead, flatten it on a large pan. This way, we're covering enough surface area.
Yes, you'll hear sizzling right away. But, there's no reason to be concerned about it. After a few minutes, you should notice the entire chunk of meat browning nicely. And, that's without separating it!
Flip The Ground Beef
Of course, we can't leave it to cook on one side alone. Flip it to brown the other side. After flipping the meat, you might feel like it's the right time to chop it up.
However, that's not the case. Let the uncooked side simmer for a bit. The difference you'll see with this method is the amount of fat in the pan. You won't see too much of that brown liquid.
People who separate the ground beef immediately will see a lot of it. It's almost as if you're boiling the ground beef in it!
Separating The Ground Beef
After a few minutes of cooking the other side, it's time to put in your seasoning. Use whatever you'd like. Then, it's time to separate it into chunks. Shape them up to your liking.
Of course, there will be brown bits stuck onto the pan. Use your wooden spatula to scrape it up. It adds flavor to the mix.
Once it's over, you should notice a stark contrast. The other way to cook it leaves it gray and dull looking. Letting it cook before separating it gives the ground beef more texture and vibrance.
If you need a visual example, here's a YouTube video demonstrating the difference:
What Are The Rubbery Pieces In Ground Beef?
Maybe the chewy bits you're consuming aren't the meat itself. This particular part is rubbery and flavorless. No matter how you prepare it, it will never break down quickly.
In this situation, you've probably had a run-in with elastin. Others like to call it gristle. You'll find it somewhat frequently in pre-packaged ground beef.
It's rare to encounter it when you source your ground beef through a butcher. The reason is that you get to choose the cut of beef you want to put in the grinder.
As you might've guessed, the only way to avoid this in the future is to purchase ground beef from a butcher. Otherwise, you'll have to take it out of the meat before you cook it.
What Are The Little Hard Things In Ground Beef?
The problem with pre-packaged ground beef is the lack of choice. You don't get to choose the cut of beef to use. Instead, it's likely a random, low-quality cut.
Other problems with pre-packaged ground meat include its contents. As mentioned, you're less likely to run into gristle at the butcher than at the store.
Low-quality cuts of meat are also more likely to include hard particles. In other words, you're probably finding bone chips or fragments in the ground beef. Of course, you can remove it from the meat before you cook it.
But, if you don't find it initially, you're in for a surprise. It's not a great feeling to bite down on the bone unexpectedly.
Why Does My Ground Beef Have A Weird Texture?
Before cooking any meat, you should always inspect the quality. A simple touch, smell, and sight test should do the job. Maybe the ground beef looks and smells alright.
However, it's a different story when you touch it. It has a weird texture. What separates safe and edible ground beef from spoiled beef?
Fresh ground beef should have a firm consistency. If you squeeze a piece, it will fall apart.
Spoiled ground beef will be sticky or slimy. You won't get far enough to test the consistency because of the sliminess. At this point, it's not safe to consume.
Throw it out and wash your hands. Otherwise, you risk ingesting bacteria you wouldn't want inside your system.
Ground beef is a staple in many people's diets. It's one of the more nutrient-dense options. However, it's not enjoyable if it's chewy. Hopefully, you found this informative. Good luck cooking ground beef with the perfect consistency!
Before you go, do you have other ground beef concerns? Do you want to mix it with ground turkey? To learn more on this, check out:
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