Ground meats make great supper dishes

By Olivia Fowler

For the Courier

As long as we live, we are faced with the daily question “what’s for supper?”

Not everyone has a suggestion, but if we offer options we often hear “no, I don’t want that.”

If you’re tired of that tired routine, blow their minds.

Don’t ask what they want. Just fix it.

One of the great things about these recipes is how different familiar ingredients become when mixed with ground meats.

Ground sirloin is used in the Salsa Meat Loaf, ground beef and pork are combined in the Swedish Meatball recipe and ground round is the meat featured in the Chili Con Carne.

A word to the wise, though — if you have a houseful of picky eaters, just don’t tell them what’s in the dish until after they eat. It can save a lot of wear and tear on the nerves.

Salsa Meat Loaf


  • 1 lb. ground beef sirloin
  • 1/2 c. salsa
  • 1/2 c. Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 c. shredded Cheddar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Dried parsley to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix the ground sirloin, salsa, bread crumbs, cheese, egg, and garlic. Season with parsley, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a 5×9 inch loaf pan.

Bake 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or to a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees F.

Swedish Meatballs


Meatball Ingredients:

  • 1 large yellow or white onion, peeled, grated (through a cheese grater)
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2/3 c. milk
  • 4-5 slices of bread, crusts removed, cut into pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 2 tsp. black pepper

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 6 tbsp. butter
  • 1/3 c. flour
  • 1 qt. beef stock
  • 1/2 to 3/4 c. sour cream
  • Salt
  • 2 to 4 tbsp. of lingonberry, cranberry, red currant or raspberry jelly, more or less to taste (optional)


Sauté the grated onion in the butter over medium-high heat until the onions soften and turn translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a medium bowl, mix the bread pieces with the milk. Set aside for 15-20 minutes, or until the bread soaks up all the milk. When it does, pulverize the bread in a food processor and pour it into a large bowl.

Add the cooled onions to the bowl of milk and bread. Add the rest of the meatball ingredients—eggs, ground pork, ground beef, salt, nutmeg, cardamom, pepper. Wash your hands then mix well for about two minutes until the ingredients are well combined. Wash hands thoroughly after this.

Use a tablespoon to measure out the meat for the meatballs. As you form the meatballs, set each one aside on a sheet pan or plate. You should get 40 to 50 meatballs.

Heat six tablespoons of butter for the sauce in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted, reduce the heat to medium and add some of the meatballs. Do not crowd the pan. Work in batches, browning them slowly on all sides. Be gentle when you turn them so they don’t break apart. Do not cook the meatballs all the way through; only brown them at this stage. Once browned, use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pan, setting them aside so you can make the sauce with the remaining pan butter.

Start the sauce. If the butter has burned throw it away and use six new tablespoons. Heat the pan butter on medium and whisk the flour in. Cook until the color of coffee with cream. This is how you make a roux.

As the roux is cooking, heat the beef stock in another pot until it simmers. When the roux has cooked until the color of coffee-with-cream, slowly add the hot beef stock a little at a time. Everything will sputter at first, and the sauce will seize up and solidify. Keep stirring and adding stock slowly, and it will loosen up and become silky.

Add the meatballs to the sauce and turn the heat down to low. Cover the pot and cook on low heat for 10 minutes. You might need to do this in batches.

To finish, move the meatballs to a serving dish. Add the sour cream and mix well. Either add the lingonberry jelly to the sauce or serve it on the side.

Shepherd’s Pie


Ingredients for potato crust:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. russet potatoes
  • 1/4 c. half-and-half
  • 2 oz. unsalted butter
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg yolk

Ingredients for meat filling:

  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 c. chopped onion
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced small
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground lamb
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. tomato paste
  • 1 c. chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. freshly chopped rosemary leaves
  • 1 tsp. freshly chopped thyme leaves
  • 1/2 c. fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1/2 c. fresh or frozen English peas


Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch dice. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and easily crushed with tongs, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Place the half-and-half and butter into a microwave-safe container and heat in the microwave until warmed through, about 35 seconds. Drain the potatoes in a colander and then return to the saucepan. Mash the potatoes and then add the half and half, butter, salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth. Stir in the yolk until well combined.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Place the canola oil into a 12-inch sauté pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and carrots and sauté just until they begin to take on color, approximately 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the lamb, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.

Add the corn and peas to the lamb mixture and spread evenly into an 11 by 7-inch glass baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula. Place on a parchment lined half sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.



Chili Con Carne

  • 2 cans (15 oz. each) red kidney beans or small red beans, drained
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, quartered, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 lb. ground round
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) tomatoes
  • 1 can mild green chiles
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped jalapeno chile pepper, optional
  • 1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • Dash ground cloves
  • 1 small bay leaf


Prepare beans unless using cans. Rinse dry beans, cover with cold water, and let soak overnight. Drain, transfer to a large saucepan, and cover with fresh water. Cover and simmer for about an hour, or until tender. Drain.

In a large skillet, brown the onion, pepper, and ground beef in oil. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, peppers, and seasonings. Cover and simmer for 1-2 hours, adding a little water if needed to keep from sticking. Check and stir frequently. Add the cooked or canned beans and heat through.