This is a discussion on making a recipe. In the recipe, the first instruction and ingredient is to "brown 2 lbs. ground beef" Because of health reasons, we use the leanest we can get in the 1 lb. tube, 93/7 (93% lean and 7% fat). First thing most people would do is to add a liberal amount of oil, butter or margarine to the pan and crumble it up and start browning it. However, I don't. I break up the meat into the pan with nothing extra and set it to medium-high heat and start browning it. Suddenly you see liquid! :
And, steam rising from it! That is because MEAT CONTAINS MOISTURE. Not added moisture, but naturally occurring moisture within the cell walls - just like scientists tell us we're 90% water, so is any other living animal. When ground, it breaks down the cell walls releasing that moisture.
A little further into cooking:
You can see the moisture being releases and the steam flowing. There is fat and moisture mixed together into juice.
Cook it further until brown, it is still swimming.
But, in a few minutes, suddenly the moisture steams away and what is left is browned meat and a little fat. Then, the meat starts to absorb what telltale fat there is, and when I spatula the ground meat into the crockpot, there is hardly nothing left in the pan!
The Crockpot, you can see no juice in there either, nor in the pan:
I've got a 6 quart Hamilton Beach crockpot and this recipe filled it to the brim! And I haven't added the Ditalini yet!
Let it cook 8 hours or so, I'm sure it will make some room!
Pasta Fagioli (served at Olive Garden)
in the Crockpot:
2 lbs. ground beef, lean
1 onion chopped
3 carrots, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 - 28 oz cans of diced tomatoes, undrained
1 - 16 oz can red kidney beans, drained
1 - 16 oz can white kidney beans, drained
3 - 10 oz cans beef stock
3 tsp oregano
2 tsp pepper
5 tsp parsley
1 tsp Tabasco, optional
1 20oz jar spaghetti sauce
8 oz pasta (Ditalini)
Brown beef* in skillet, drain fat
Add to crockpot along with all other ingredients except pasta
Cook on low 7-8 hours, or on high 4-5 hours
Add pasta last 30 minutes
Serve with green crisp toss salad and garlic bread
*Substitute any ground meat you like: pork, chicken, lamb, venison, rabbit, mutton, turkey, etc.
It's not cooking down that much, I will cook the ditalini separate and add it when serving. Think you could easily cut this down to half for a more reasonable amount, or freeze.