Adding Flavor to Lean Beef

Adding Flavor to Lean Beef

March 23, 2018

How to get more flavor into those lean meats.

Before I jump into the reasons, lean meats tend to be “less tasty,” let's make sure we understand what a “lean” cut of meat is. I don’t have to make anything up for this; the USDA has guidelines:

  • Lean Meat – per 3 oz. cooked serving:
    • Less than 10 grams total fat
    • Less than 4.5 grams saturated fat
  • Extra Lean Meat – per 3 oz. cooked serving:
    • Less than 5 grams total fat
    • Less than 2 grams saturated fat

So, to make sure you’re eating lean beef, just stick with one that’s around those numbers or a 94% lean or higher on the ground meat scale.

There are some quick and easy ways to improve the flavor of lean meats without adding so much to them that you significantly increase the caloric content or macro ratio.

I bring up altering the macro ratio with the exclusion of ‘taste solutions,” like adding a tab of butter to a steak. If you were going to add a tab of butter, it would have made sense to just stick with the fattier cut of meat.

Pretty much anything I talk about for ground beef can be said for ground turkey. If you want to mix it up and move away from red meats, give ground turkey a try.

There are two kinds of seasonings you should look at for beef: The types of additions that add moisture and those that will only add flavor, or merely wet vs. dry additives for the meat.

Add any of the following ingredients to provide moisture:

  • 1-2 Tbsp water per pound of meat
  • Ketchup
  • Steak sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Hot sauce
  • Mustard
  • Tomato juice
  • Salsa
  • Relish
  • An egg white (it can help bind lean meat and add moisture)
  • Moist bread crumbs
  • Fat-free sour cream and onion soup mix
  • 1 Tbsp Olive oil per pound (while this does add fat, it’s heart healthy)
  • Veggies are great for adding moisture and flavor, try:
    • Diced Eggplant (use small firm ones, they do not have as many seeds which makes them bitter)
    • Onions (sautéed onions work great, too)
    • Peppers
    • Tomatoes
    • Mushrooms
    • Pureed carrots

Add seasonings for flavor. The following are some great options:

  • Salt and Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Use your imagination, here are a few non-tradition ideas:
    • Ginger
    • Chili powder
    • Oregano
    • Basil
    • Cumin
    • Mint

Adding sauce is one of my favorite ways to alter meat and make it tastier. Ground beef is a sponge with flavors from sauces. Try a marinara sauce. It’s pretty easy to make your own.

Homemade Marinara

  • 1 can diced tomatoes (low or no-salt is best)
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Italian seasoning, to taste

Stir the ingredients in a pan, and simmer for 20-30 minutes.  If necessary, add just a pinch of sugar or Stevia to remove the tartness.

However, you can buy marinara sauce from the store. But watch out, many of these brands contain added sugars. Be sure to check the label for sugar content.

If you want to check out my other blog on Labels, check that out here. Enjoy your beef!

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