Keema Ground Beef Curry aka My Favorite Ground Beef Recipe Ever

I’ve spent a lot of years in the kitchen, and my husband has spent a lot of years giving me specific and honest feedback about what my kitchen produces.

So I can say with confidence that my juicy grilled burger topped with caramelized onions and bleu cheese is delightful, and my meatballs rival anything you can get on The Hill here in Saint Louis. But I’m still always looking for new recipes to make a dent in my freezer full of ground beef (we buy half a cow at a time), and this Keema is my new favorite! I love Indian flavors, I love that the veggies really add to the meal (instead of being the veggie afterthought that ruins so many good dishes), and I love that all of my children devour this with no complaints.

IMG_2666

The few Keema recipes I’ve seen call for white potatoes but I opted for butternut squash and it is so much better that way! The sweetness and the color really add to the overall deliciousness.

Recipe Notes:

  • If you’re a grain-eating family, serve this over rice or quinoa. We’ve also had it over sprouted mung beans, lentils, or just by itself as a stew.
  • Penzeys Maharajah Curry Powder and Penzeys or McCormick Garam Masala are my favorites for this recipe, but choose whatever brands you like – any yellow or sweet curry powder should work.
  • It looks like a lot of spice, but this recipe is definitely a mild and sweet curry. Feel free to adjust the spices to your liking, adding some more curry, garam masala or some cayenne or other pepper if you want it hotter.

IMG_2634

  • Don’t bother taking the time to pick all the cilantro leaves off the stem; the stems are just as sweet and flavorful as the leaves. Simply chop the bunch down to the lowermost leaf, then discard the tough bottoms of the stems. (But don’t try that with parsley. Parsley has bitter stems.)

IMG_2632

  • If you’re one of those people that thinks you don’t like cilantro, please just try it here. Please.
  • If you have any family members that are finicky about chunky tomatoes in their sauce (raising my hand), zip the tomatoes with a stick blender before adding them to the pot.

IMG_2636

  • The recipe as written below makes enough to feed dinner to my family of 5 eaters, with usually enough left over for lunch the next day. But we eat a ton, so… this could probably feed 8 to 10? I usually double the recipe below and put half away in the freezer for an emergency (or lazy day) meal. But you need a really big pot to do that.

IMG_2638_1

  • I try to use grass fed beef, organic veggies, and chicken broth made at home from the bones (so it’s nice and gelatin-y). Use what you can get, but starting with high quality ingredients makes a big difference in any recipe!

Keema Beef Curry

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 giant or 2 small/medium onions, diced (purple or yellow – I usually use a combination)
  • 4 -5 garlic cloves, minced or run over a microplane
  • A 1 – 2 inch chunk of fresh ginger root, peeled and minced or microplaned
  • 1 tablespoon Maharajah curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 small to medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into about 1-inch cubes
  • 1 can (14-ounce) full fat coconut milk
  • 1 can (14- or 15-ounce) diced or crushed tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth (turkey, lamb, or beef broth also works)
  • 1 cup baby peas (frozen is fine)
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Brown ground beef in a large dutch oven. Try to leave larger chunks as it is browning as opposed to smooshing it all to tiny bits like you do for tacos (unless that’s just me). When just cooked through, remove ground beef to a bowl.
  2. Return 1 or 2 tablespoons of the beef fat back to the now empty dutch oven over medium heat (if your beef was very lean, use a tablespoon or two of butter or lard). When hot, add diced onions and about 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Saute onions, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.
  3. Move the onions to the sides of the pot and add another tablespoon of fat or butter to the center if the pot is dry. Add garlic, ginger, curry powder, and garam masala to the center of the pot and cook, stirring , until fragrant, about a minute or two, then stir everything into the onions. Add the butternut squash and stir so it is coated with the onions and spices.
  4. Stir in the broth and scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Stir in coconut milk and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover pot, and continue to simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a sharp knife, about 20 minutes, stirring once or twice to make sure things aren’t sticking to the bottom.
  5. If the sauce is too watery for you, remove the lid and continue to simmer until it reduces a bit. Add peas and ground beef and cook until warmed through, about five minutes. Add chopped cilantro. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed (I usually add quite a bit more salt at this point).
  6. Serve over quinoa, rice, beans, or lentils, or alone as a stew.

This keeps for at least a week and reheats well in a saucepan. Add a splash of broth when reheating if it looks dry, and top with a little fresh cilantro. It also freezes well!

Quality ground beef is an economical source of good protein but it doesn’t mean you have to have hamburger helper and meatloaf every week. This Keema gives you a flavorful, nourishing ground beef option, and also works well for GAPS, Paleo, and Traditional menus (except for maybe the peas – not sure how all those diets feel about peas). My 2-, 4-, and 6-year olds always go back for seconds (we’ve outlawed “thirds” in our house!). I hope your family enjoys it as much!

Advertisements

Sweet Banana Avocado Pancakes (grain free, nut free, dairy free, et al)

When we eliminated grains from the family diet, I learned one lesson rather quickly: you can take just about any puree-able fruit or vegetable, add a bunch of eggs, and come up with a serviceable pancake. Add some vanilla, spices, and baking soda, and you have a downright decent pancake. (Side Note: little pancakes make a great replacement for sandwich bread for the kids.)

IMG_2431

These pancakes started as those famous “equal number of bananas and eggs beat together” pancakes. But I don’t love those pancakes. They’re overly sweet and a little slimy, so my recipe writing helper and I made some adjustments.

IMG_2426 IMG_2429

This batter uses the bananas for sweetness so there is no need for added sugar, with a little avocado for creaminess and baking soda for lift. The result is a great tasting pancake that is GAPS and SCD friendly (I think – do they allow baking soda?) and free of grains, nuts, coconut, sugar, and dairy (although if you wanted to add a couple tablespoons of melted coconut butter, coconut oil, or butter, I certainly wouldn’t discourage you).

Sweet Banana Avocado Pancakes

  • 2 ripe bananas (speckled at a minimum, and more brown than yellow is ideal)
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 5 eggs (pastured is best and tastiest!)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • Coconut oil, lard, or butter for the pan

Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium-low heat. Particularly with cast iron (but also works well for any pan), preheat for a longer time on lower heat for better results.

Blend peeled bananas, avocado meat, and all remaining ingredients (except for pan oil). I use a medium bowl and a stick blender, but a powerful blender or food processor should also work.

Grease your pan with your chosen fat. I prefer lard or coconut oil. Butter tastes yummy but will burn after multiple batches so you’ll want to wipe the pan out periodically. I melt a good layer of lard over the pan surface (using cast iron – if you have a nonstick pan you’ll need much less).

IMG_2432

Make batches of small pancakes, about 3 to 4 inches across – 2 to 3 tablespoons or a shy 1/4 cup pf batter each. The pancakes are ready to flip when they have bubbles on the surface, dry-ish edges, and golden brown bottoms. The time will vary greatly depending on your stove top and pan, but I prefer to adjust the heat so it takes about 4 minutes per side in order to make sure they are cooked all the way through.

These are plenty sweet enough to forgo the syrup and top with berries. Or just put the berries inside – these pancakes can handle it.

IMG_2435

This recipe makes about 20 little pancakes – perfect breakfast for my three munchkins.

And if you don’t believe me about the possibilities for fruits/vegetables in pancakes, try experimenting. Replace one or both of the bananas with another sweet option like roasted or steamed butternut squash or sweet potatoes (or leftover butternut squash soup that your kids wouldn’t eat as soup but will gladly eat as pancakes). This morning I added about a cup of cooked cauliflower to the recipe above and it extended the batter quite a bit and no one noticed the cauliflower! I really love a breakfast that recycles dinner leftovers. :)

Pink Pancakes

It seems like a lot of posts around here lately are about food, but I think that’s ok. I am starting to think that the food we eat is the single most important factor in our physical health and well-being, and anyone who has ever had anything from a slight cold to a chronic illness knows that your physical health effects everything.

How difficult is it to care for the people you love or be creative with a headache? How much do you feel like playing with your kids when your sinuses are stuffed to the point you are *sure* your eyeballs will pop out at any minute? A little stomach bug can wipe your calendar clean for a week, and a simple lack of energy or focus can derail our best intentions. All of this is effected by what we eat.

So if your goal is to give love to your family, providing them with real food — food that actually nourishes and helps build them up physically and protects them from illness — should be a top priority. But just because food is a serious subject doesn’t mean it has to be drudgery. Shopping for ingredients, prepping meals, and family dinners should be (*gasp*) fun!

Enter Pink Pancakes.

IMG_4857

I know it’s March and Spring and I should be turning all of our food green, but I feed two princesses. We like pink.

These almond flour Silver Dollar Pancakes are a breakfast staple in our house. Every now and then, I pick up a bunch of beets at the market and roast them all when I get home and pop them in the fridge.

1 Roasted Beet, pureed + Silver Dollar Pancakes recipe = Pink Pancakes!

IMG_4858

Sadly, they’re not quite as fun once cooked because they still develop a browned exterior, but they stay bright pink (fuchsia? magenta?) inside! And my kids don’t mind the beet flavor at all. Or, if they do, they ignore it because they like pink foods.

Score one for real food.

Grain Free Fish Cakes

We recently had occasion to limit the grains, starches, sugars, and dairy in our family’s diet. It might be enough, or we could find ourselves in full GAPS territory before too long, but for now my big challenge is modifying some of our favorite recipes to accommodate these new evils healthful restrictions.

Some attempts are working out better than others.

Some are inedible disasters reminiscent of my first days in a kitchen.

IMG_4942

But these fish cakes turned out really well so I want to share. Originally I started with this Maryland Crab Cakes recipe from Cooks Illustrated, which I highly recommend without a single change. But lump crab is wicked expensive and bread crumbs and flour and even vegetable oil are out for us right now. Replacing the crab and a few other simple substitutions brought these back to our table as delicious fish cakes – we eat them almost every Friday for Lent!

You need a pound of flaky white fish. Thick fillets work best, like cod or haddock. I get giant bags of frozen, wild-caught cod loin fillets from a warehouse club. Although I prefer fresh fish to frozen for most recipes, the frozen fish are perfect for this as the texture of the cooked fish is not critical, and the fillets can go straight from freezer to poaching liquid when I’ve forgotten to thaw them.

I poach the fish until just cooked through, and then pile on flavor in the form of green onions, fresh cilantro, Old Bay seasoning, salt and pepper.

IMG_4928

*Note* that if you forgot that you just cut down all of your never-ending green onions for a recipe yesterday and therefore have none, you can feel free to substitute with a slightly less amount of minced red onion.

Then add in some binding: almond flour, mayonnaise, and egg. (We’re also avoiding preservatives, so I use homemade mayonnaise made with a combination of olive and grapeseed oils – no added sugar and no preservatives.)

IMG_4929

The fish should flake easily as you combine everything. Be gentle so you have some chunks of fish and not just a pile of mush. When it’s time to form the fish cakes, I use this little kitchen trick: a sliding liquid measuring cup.

IMG_4930

Slide the measure to about 1/4 or 1/3 cup then pack it full of fish mixture with a spatula. It should easily pop out in a perfectly packed and sized fish cake! Line them all up on a parchment lined cookie sheet or plate.

IMG_4935

*Note* that what you see in the pictures is a lot more than a single recipe. One recipe using a pound of fish will give you 4 (maybe 5) fish cakes, but I generally triple the recipe and have 12 or 13 fish cakes to feed the 7 people at our table.

Once all your fish cakes are formed (by hand is fine if you don’t have a push-up measuring cup), cover the cookie sheet loosely in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to one day. This is one of the reasons I love this recipe. I can get the fish cakes all prepped and in the fridge during nap time or whenever we have a lull in the day, and avoid any serious prep time around the dinner hour when my kids have a tendency to demand attention and have shorter fuses. I can also make a whole bunch and cook enough for dinner one night and leave the rest in the fridge for lunch the next day (my kids love these – they have no problem eating them two days in a row).

IMG_4934

Packing the cakes and the refrigeration time are important to help these hold together while cooking. When you’re ready, it only takes about 10 minutes to pan fry the fish cakes until hot.

IMG_4949

We usually have a crisp salad on the side and top the cakes with Chipotle Aioli (recipe below), but if you’re a tartar sauce kind of person, that’s ok too.

So here’s the actual recipe. If you’re an experienced primal/paleo/gluten free/dairy free/traditional/GAPS eater, and you notice that any of the ingredients are not legal on such programs, well, I just started this and I have no idea what I’m doing, so you’re probably right. Also, the next time I make these I am going to experiment with coconut flour as the binding, as I think it might even work better than the almond meal.

IMG_4942

Grain-Free Maryland Style Fish Cakes

1 pound white fish (cod, haddock, or similar)
4 medium scallions, green part only, minced (about 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro (or use dill, basil, parsley or other fresh herb of choice)
1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
2 tablespoons almond meal or almond flour
1/4 cup mayonnaise (olive oil or homemade preferred)
Salt
Ground black pepper
1 large egg
1/4 cup coconut flour, for dredging fish cakes
1/4 cup frying medium (coconut oil, ghee, or other high-heat oil)

Instructions:

  1. Poach fish in simmering water until just cooked through, 3 to 10 minutes depending on thickness of fillets. Use a slotted spoon to transfer fish to a bowl to cool, about 10 minutes. Drain off and discard any liquid that accumulates during cooling time.
  2. Add scallions, cilantro, Old Bay, almond meal, and mayonnaise to bowl with fish and gently combine with a rubber spatula.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste (remember there is already salt in the Old Bay), then gently add egg with rubber spatula.
  4. Form fish mixture into 4 or 5 equal sized cakes, about 3 inches across and 1 to 2 inches high. Carefully place fish cakes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day.
  5. Put 1/4 cup coconut flour in a plate or pie pan. Heat oil or ghee in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Carefully dredge each chilled fish cake in flour on both sides, patting gently to ensure a thin coat adheres, and pan fry until warmed through and outside is browned, 4 to 5 minutes per side. If the cakes are browning too quickly, reduce to medium heat. Serve plain or with Chipotle Aioli or tartar sauce and fresh chopped cilantro.

Chipotle Aioli

5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 minced chipotle pepper (canned) with a little accompanying adobo sauce (or 1/2 pepper for a more mild sauce and up to 2 chipotles if you like things spicy)
1 egg yolk
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp of freshly squeezed lime juice

Instructions:

  1. Heat garlic and olive oil in a small sauce pan over medium heat until sizzling and very lightly golden, about five minutes. (You can skip this step if you want a sharper and spicier garlic taste, but I would reduce the garlic amount if you decide to keep it raw.) Strain garlic out of olive oil, reserve and cool about ten minutes.
  2. Place garlic, chipotle, egg yolk, a pinch of salt, and a grind or two of black pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Blend well, stopping to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl if necessary.
  3. With processor running, add the reserved olive oil in a slow, steady stream and blend until the aioli thickens slightly. Season with lime juice and additional salt or pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use.

There are a lot of good online sources for grain-free, paleo, primal, and traditional recipes (if you have read any other post of this blog you can probably see that Elana’s Pantry is one of my favorites). However I have come to really enjoy the genius of Cooks Illustrated recipes in my kitchen, so there will likely be more attempts at adapting recipes in our future. If you are going to alter a recipe, your best chance of success is to start with one that you know is perfect to begin with, and I have found most Cooks Illustrated recipes to be just that.

I hope you and your family enjoy these – let me know if you make any other successful substitutions!