Considering my target audience (people who read videogame-themed food blogs), you likely don’t have this issue, but I bet you know someone who does. My parents are absolutely addicted to ground beef. Now that beef prices have skyrocketed, it’s time I convinced them of all the other delicious ground meats!
I can’t blame them too much. Our local grocery store (which sucks because this is a rural food desert) stocks ground beef in large supply, has the tubes of ground turkey (if you don’t mind looking in the completely opposite section from what you expect), and that’s it. There’s no ground pork or ground chicken.
For all of my youth, things like meatballs, meatloaf, hamburgers, etc. were always made with ground beef. I didn’t know better, but since discovering that turkey burgers are delicious or that adding in ground pork with pretty much any ground beef recipe adds a ton of flavor I am really tired of my parent’s bland, boring food.
I’ve tried my best to convince them otherwise. I have made some really delicious meals, including a ground turkey spaghetti sauce that my father would’ve sworn was beef. Even with ground beef rising in price, both of my parents cling to their ways. It’s not even like they are locked inside a culinary box unwilling to get out and explore – they simply don’t think about their regular dishes with anything other than what they’ve used their entire lives.
Even now, if I suggest we try something different – a turkey burger, for example – my father turns up his nose in disdain. “That’s not a burger,” he complains. This insular worldview of what food ought to be offends me in the same way people choose to narrowly define words by their dictionary definitions. The beauty of language is in how we are so free to combine new and old sounds to make new meaning on the spot. Similarly, crafting a delicious dish let’s you take familiar tastes and create new combinations that make boring old ground beef tacos new again with ground pork or healthier with ground turkey.
This also should include leaving the meat behind entirely. I got caught up in an argument about chili on Twitter the other day and a few people weren’t very open to the idea of my vegetarian chili. I love meat and I’ll never be a vegetarian, but all meatlovers would benefit from taking a step back and using less of the stuff, if only to rediscover what the meat adds. We live in the Age of Bacon – seriously, a local retailer was selling some contraption to make bacon bowls. Yet, my Southern heritage doesn’t pile on meat after meat, but instead uses things like bacon or other fatty cuts to infuse and flavor a wide variety of vegetables.
I like having a more sustainable approach to my kitchen that isn’t limited by arbitrary rules I place on myself, though is limited enough that I am forced to get creative. By reconsidering the sort of meat I use in my favorite dishes, I can make them taste new again, often at a more affordable price. By omitting the meat from time to time, I can remind myself why I love it so much, and not fall into the trap of having every meal be a Noah’s Ark. And yes, that means getting outside the comfort of eating nothing but ground beef, and making some awesome turkey meatballs or mushroom burgers from time to time.
Here are a few recipes to check out:
- Food Network: Portobello Mushroom Burger
- All Recipes: Fast and Friendly [Turkey] Meatballs
- Martha Stewart: Pork and Potato Meatloaf
C. T. Murphy can more regularly be found over at his blog, Murf Versus. You can also find him on Twitter, where he is frequently at his weirdest. His favorite food is Thai, though his roots are in Soul Food, and he only ever cooks Tex-Mex. He’s a strange fellow.