Caramelized Sweet’n’Spicy Ground Beef and Green Beans

I’m learning a little bit more about the lil “Cheffie” in me who loves to eat and cook all the time. For one, I have never been one to use a recipe beyond to check the temperature and the average amount of time a certain cut of meat needs to cook. But, for the sake of those who would like to try any of the dishes I enjoy making but aren’t within a 10 mile radius of me (and can’t pop over for lunch or dinner), I’ve been reigning in my creative tendencies and am seating myself with an empty ring of measuring cups and spoons to recall the recipe, after the fact.

So, Caramelized Sweet’n’Spicy Ground Beef and Green Beans is a comfort food. I love meat, and strong flavors with a kick, and vegetables. But, sometimes veggies need some flavor to make them disappear fast…this is one of those dishes that makes it happen!

This dish has evolved a LOT over time, and there are several tasty variations, but the latest one is the one you’ll read below.

It is an inspired combination of a dish my mom used to make when I was a wee little thing and by a more traditional Chinese green beans recipe. The result is not quite Chinese in flavoring, and not quite bbq… but, it is flavorful and great for kids and adults alike.

Let’s get started.

Serves ~ 7 people.

~Ingredient List~

(-general-)

5 cloves fresh garlic

1 large yellow onion

1 small red pepper, de-seeded, and minced

olive oil

1 package of lean ground beef, 93-94% lean. (defrosted in the fridge overnight, if possible. never defrost on your kitchen counter – bacteria love that, especially with ground meats)

1 bag of fresh green beans (haricots verts)

(-dry spices-)

sea salt

salt

ground peppercorns

black pepper

ground cumin

ground cinnamon

red pepper flakes

parsley flakes

dill

(-sauces-)

honey

Cape Cod sweet and spicy jar honey mustard (any sweet and spicy will do)

ketchup, or tomato paste

hickory smoked bbq sauce

balsamic vinegar

soy sauce

Don’t be afraid when you see the long ingredient list. Just assemble the ingredients before you get started- most of your kitchens should have almost all, if not all, the dry and sauce ingredients. The sauce is probably the most difficult part, and it’s really not complicated. 🙂

~ Phase 1~

[PREPARE THE PAN FOR MEAT]

1. peel, crush, and chop approximately 5 cloves of fresh garlic

2. dice 1/2 a large yellow onion

3. Use approximately 3 tbsp of olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. (Make sure the pan can hold a whole pack of ground beef)

4. Prepare the meat by removing it from the package, and cutting into the ground meat to make smaller chunks.

5. Work on the sauce, and come back to the pan later. Keep the pan off for now.

~ Phase 2~

[SAUCE PREPARATION]

1. in a 1 quart saucepan, combine the following wet sauce ingredients, stirring constantly on low-medium heat (wooden utensils work best!) : 1/2 cup ketchup or tomato paste, 1/3 cup hickory bbq, 1 tbsp sweet and spicy honey mustard, 1 tsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp of garlic and onion (chopped above), 3 tbsp of honey, 1/2 cup brown sugar.

2. incorporate the following dry spice ingredients into the sauce: 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp red pepper flakes, 1/4 tsp dill, 1/2 tsp parsley1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper. The color of this sauce should NOT be very red, but more a deep reddish brown as the brown sugar starts to caramelize. Keep stirring, so as not to allow sauce to overheat and form a layer on the sides of the pot.

3. turn on lowest heat.

~ Phase 3~

(-MEAT AND SAUCE MEET-)

1. add garlic and onions to olive-oiled pan turned on medium-high heat. stir constantly so they do not burn for about 5 minutes until onions are softened and are turning translucent.

2. add 3 tbsp of brown sugar to pan, stirring until a light caramel color throughout the pan is seen. (approx 2-3 minutes). Caramelize the onions.

3. add meat, increase heat to high. stir.

4. sprinkle 3/4 tsp of sea salt evenly on top of meat.

5. freshly grind peppercorn to taste (about 1 tbsp) on top of meat.

6. lower to medium heat. wait until meat is 70% cooked.

7. stir in warmed sauce from saucepan until all the meat is covered.

8. keep stirring for every 5 minutes for 15 minutes or so, monitoring the consistency of the sauce.

9. while the meat is cooking, prepare the green beans. Depending on what kind you choose, you can boil them for 5 minutes, or steam them, and then they will be crisp and ready.

10. midway through, dash 1 tsp of soy sauce over meat to enhance color and taste. The sauce should go from being fairly liquid to caramelizing around the meat and browning nicely. In the end, the sauce should be completely absorbed into the meat and not liquid at all – allow all excess to evaporate.

11. When excess liquid has evaporated, add the green beans to the pan and stir them in for just a few minutes.

12. All ready!

Serving suggestions: serve with brown rice or with mashed potatoes.

Enjoy!

Let me know how it goes 🙂

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