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Several questions keep coming up… How to cook ground beef?, how long to cook ground beef?, etc. Is it safe to refreeze meat? How the heck am I supposed to know…. I am a bachelor and no great shakes as a cook!
I have developed a few tricks over the years, though, and will do my best to explain what I have learned.

Let me talk about refreezing meat first. I have been doing it for years, with no bad side effects. As a bachelor, I have found that the portions you buy are always more than what is needed for one meal. For example, I would buy a pound of ground beef (or just grab a pound from the freezer at the processing plant!) and I would eat three times from that single pound. So how to avoid having to eat ground beef three days in a row? I would thaw the ground beef and split it into three sections, use one and refreeze the other two, separately. Main thing is not to thaw the meat to room temperature – keep it as cold as possible. Just thaw the meat to where you can handle it and split it into the sizes you need. (If meat is left out at room temperature it start to decay and can become spoiled – don’t take chances!) I have done the same thing with pork and lamb chops – normally packaged to four per package. Thaw them, split the package to your needs and refreeze – no problem at all. If I know I am going to use the rest the next day, I simply leave it in the fridge – because it never “warmed up” and stays good and cold, the meat will not spoil.

Don’t ask me how long to cook anything – this is something I do by feel or instinct. Mainly if it looks done, it is done!! I refuse to use a thermometer – for me, it takes all the fun out of preparing a meal. Had some disasters over the years, but mainly my “feel” has been right. I also very seldom follow recipes – it is much more fun to concoct a dish by trying stuff I haven’t tried before. Every now and then, I will luck onto a combination I really like and notes will be made!!

Ground beef has to be a bachelor’s best buy – it is so very versatile! Burgers, shepherd’s pie, sausage rolls – heaps of really easy dishes can be prepared. Here are my favorites….

Sausage Rolls

Really easy and simple to make. One package of pastry sheets, one pound of ground beef, some onion chopped up, salt, pepper and garlic. (Sometimes I add some grated cheese, but this can become very messy as the cheese melts and runs out all over the place!) Add seasoning and chopped onion to the raw ground beef and roll it out into long sausage shapes – I have found that a third of a pound makes a perfect size sausage. Now roll it up in the pastry sheet to form a long roll, using some scrambled egg to glue the edges together. Chop the roll into your preferred size – I personally like the bite-sized rolls as depicted in the image above. Paint the little rolls with the rest of your egg to help the pastry turn that perfect brown color.
Into the pre heated oven and bake at about 400 degrees (F) for about 15 to 18 minutes. Then switch the oven to broil and keep a close eye on your rolls – soon as they achieve that glossy brown – out they come! (I know ground beef is made from red meat but I really enjoy a glass of Sauvignon Blanc with this meal!)

Shepherd’s Pie

I happen to have a small casserole dish that is the perfect size for one meal. (With a little left over for a cold couple of mouthfuls for breakfast!!) Rub the bottom of the dish with some butter to prevent food sticking and layer mashed potatoes (I use the easy stuff that comes in a package – just add water and boil for a while and it turns into perfect mashed potato!! Add some butter and it becomes even better!), ground beef (prepared the same way as for the sausage rolls) and mashed potatoes again. Into the oven at about 400 degrees (F) and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes as this is a deeper dish. I have found that a lot of the fat comes to the top of the dish (looks like oil) and I normally blot it up with some paper towels at this point. Spread a generous layer of grated cheese over the the dish – back into the oven and bake until the cheese is well melted. Now change to broil again and keep an eye on your dish – when the cheese turn burned brown (with some black spots), out she comes! (A glass of good Cabernet Sauvignon has been breathing for a while and now I am salivating!)

Everybody’s favorite Burgers!!

I don’t think I need to tell anybody how to make a burger – it is after all America’s favorite food!! But I have a lot of fun with this – Bacon/cheese burger with an egg added. Bacon/cheese burger with avocado added. Bacon/cheese (beginning to notice a recurring theme here?) burger with mushroom pepper sauce. The one thing I refuse to use is the burger buns they sell at the store – I much prefer using multigrain bread slices. NEVER have a burger without adding some home fries – two or three potatoes sliced up and deep fried in veggie oil until they are crisp and golden brown. Much better than the precooked, frozen junk from the store!! (The cheese and the bacon will combine with the ground beef to make a pretty fatty (but oh so tasty) dish – so a red wine with higher tannin content like a Shiraz is indicated here. But since I have already opened a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon to go with my Shepherd’s Pie, I will just stick with that for now!)

I hope the above has given you all some ideas. To me, cooking is much like choosing wine – refuse to listen to others and experiment for yourself. It is fun and sometimes hilarious! Develop dishes that you like – add unheard of spices and see what comes out the other end!! Then combine it with the wines you have chosen for yourself as good and make notes of your combinations – be adventurous!

(Readers will note that I have turned off the comments section on my blogs – just too much spam and idiocy comes back! But please email me by using the contact detail on our Home page – I am looking forward to hearing about some of your own food/wine adventures!)

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