On August 31, 2009 by Kelly

I don’t know about you, but I really struggle with all of the browning of ground meat on our cooking days. It just seems like it takes two gigantic skillets to cook most of the meat and even then it ends up all over the stove. I have often wondered if there is a better way. Well, I think I might have found one!

Brown ground beef in your crock pot!

Ground Beef (or Turkey) added to crock pot.

I tried a little experiment for this last month’s cooking day and I am happy to report that it was a SUCCESS! I placed the ground beef (in my case it was ground turkey) in a crock pot with 1 cup of water. The water helps to “steam” the ground beef. I turned the crock pot on high and let the ground beef cook for 6-8 hours. About half way through I took a look and it was all clumped together so I used a spoon to break it into pieces so the middle would cook better. After 8 hours, I stuck in a meat thermometer to make sure that it had reached the desired temperature. I forgot to take a picture, but let me just say, at the end of the 8 hours I was really skeptical. It had clumped into one giant meatball with the liquid surrounding it. I didn’t want to lose all of that beef so I continued on. I used a strainer to drain the meat (catching the broth in a bowl for freezing) and then returned the meat to the crockpot. I used my Pampered Chef Mix N Chop (it was PERFECT for this) to break up the meat.

Brown ground beef in your crock pot!

Ground Turkey (or Beef) broken up with Mix N Chop

It turned out GREAT! I stored it in the refrigerator overnight as I had cooked it the day before in case of disaster. Then, on our cooking day, I simply saute some onion, added it to the meat and voila! Browned ground meat! My cooking partners thought I was AMAZING! So another great use for your crock pot and hopefully a time saver on your cooking day. On September’s menu I will be inserting directions that include cooking the meat this way overnight. If you find you don’t like this method you can stick to the old way, but I highly recommend giving it a go. Here are the instructions:

  1. Add raw meat to crock pot + 1 cup of water.
  2. Cook on high for 6-8 hours or until meat reaches desired temperature.
  3. Drain meat.
  4. Break meat up with chopper or spoon.
  5. Use as browned ground beef in recipes.

**Additional Note: Several readers have posed the question of the “danger zone” in cooking your beef this way. I wanted to respond as I have thought through this several times and waged the idea of crock pot cooking. I want to emphasis that it is important to use the 1 cup (or more if you think needed) of water when cooking your beef this way. The liquid gets “in between” and the meat cooks in the water, thus the surface area of the meat is being penetrated with the heat of the hot water, thus not placing the meat in the “danger zone” for as long. In addition, it is important to cook the meat on HIGH, not low, when preparing it. We must always be cautious of raw meats being in the danger zone but we have cooked meats as in stews and other meats in our crock pots for recipes for years. Always use common sense and best practices when handling meat. If you are uncomfortable cooking your meat this way, feel free to bake, boil, or brown it on the stove top instead.