I am always on the lookout for things to do with ground beef. I’ve expounded before on how much we love our meat farm share, how cool farmer Kim is, how wonderful it is to know where your meat comes from. Because, seriously, it really is. And overall, I don’t mind not being able to choose specific cuts of meat, for we generally receive a remarkable variety. We do wind up with a lot of ground beef, though. Not as much as my parents, who buy a substantial portion of a cow every year, but a lot nonetheless.
So, we have a regular rotation of spaghetti bolognese, chili, beef tacos, and back to spaghetti, like a song on repeat. At least it’s a pretty good song (I used to dread spaghetti when I was little because I felt like we had it so often. Now I understand why, and I welcome it almost weekly as a satisfying respite from thinking about the age old question of what’s for dinner).
Then there’s the occasional meatball or hamburger thrown in, depending on the season. Meatloaf has shown up a couple of times too. I welcome it in and try to give it something like a homemade apple barbecue sauce to make it feel at home. It makes awfully good leftover sandwiches, however awkward I feel about meat in a loaf form.
But, as I said, I’m always on the lookout for new potential rotational admitees, so I was thrilled when I discovered keema beef curry. Keema, I believe, means minced, and a keema curry is one that uses finely chopped or ground meat. A stupendous idea, that! I felt fairly ridiculous that I hadn’t ever thought of it before. I sautee, spice, add tomatoes, and use ground beef in chili left and right. But never in all of this cooking had I tried to call a quick time out and substitute out the chile powder for fresh-legged curry powder.
And into the rotation it shall indeed go. I go on curry benders throughout the winter. They have the comforting, gentle warmth of your standard stew, but with more energetic spicing. Stews are hunker down at home food. Curries are hunker down at home food masquerading as going out food. Everybody wins!
This keema curry, while lacking the fork tender hunks of braised meat you find in other beef curries, is rich and deeply flavorful, redolent with ginger, curry, and coconut. The sweet little peas dotting the curry are a classic companion to beef. A wholesome Fred and Ginger, dancing their way through stews, shepherd’s pies, pasties, stir fries (if your peas are of the sugar snap variety), and this curry.
Serve over some basmati rice with fresh naan or chapati on the side, add a sprinkling of cilantro, and you have yourself quite a meal. You would never realize that the original motivation for the curry was looking for something, anything, new to do with ground beef.
I have a suspicion that this curry may be even better with ground lamb…but that wouldn’t use up any beef, now would it?
Keema Beef Curry (serves 4-6) adapted from Food & Wine, January 2012
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons Madras curry powder
- 1 large Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- One 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
- One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups frozen baby peas
- Chopped cilantro
- Warm naan or chapati and cooked rice, for serving
- In a large pot, or deep skillet, heat the butter over medium high heat, until foaming. Add the ground beef, sprinke with salt and pepper, and cook, breaking it apart into small pieces, until there is no pink left.
- Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and curry powder. Stir and cook until the onion has softened, about 5-7 minutes.
- Stir in the potato, making sure to coat it with all the flavors in the pot. Add the broth, coconut milk, and canned tomatoes with their juices. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and cook until the potato is tender and the sauce has thickened, about 15-20 minutes.
- Use a wooden spoon to crush most of the potatoes into the broth. Stir in the peas and continue to cook until the peas are just cooked through, around 5 more minutes. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve sprinkled with chopped cilantro, accompanied by rice and/or naan or chapati.