Break Up Ground Meat Easily With An Unconventional Kitchen Tool

When it's time to break out the ground beef for taco night, it's important to get that meat broken down into even, individual pieces. Nobody wants a burger-sized piece of ground beef in their taco or burrito. Evenly-sized pieces of meat will also cook better. If you find yourself with a collection of misshapen pieces, the larger ones will still be raw by the time the smaller ones are fully cooked. 

Unfortunately, there's a simple problem that can occur when trying to break down ground meat. If you toss a package of ground beef into a hot pan and then try to break it up with a wooden stirring spoon or spatula, the beef will clump together unevenly. It will take a good deal of time and elbow grease to get it to break down. This is time you could have spent preparing other parts of your meal while the meat cooks.

Reaching for a stirring spoon or spatula might initially make sense for breaking up ground meat, but a more unconventional tool will actually make this easier. Next time you need to break up ground meat, reach for a potato masher to get the job done more quickly and efficiently.

Why reach for a potato masher?

Mashing meat into tiny pieces will help incorporate it into a silky sauce like a creamy white bolognese. It also allows the meat to brown better. By breaking meat into the smallest pieces possible, you maximize its surface area and allow it to brown evenly. Remember, the Maillard reaction is always the name of the game when it comes to maximizing flavor.

A potato masher accomplishes this task with ease. The uniform holes found on a potato masher allow the meat to break down into even pieces. It will additionally accomplish this more quickly than a wooden spoon will.

The spud crusher also helps to break down lean meats like ground turkey or bison. Lean meats contain less fat, which means that they clump together more easily. A potato masher will help solve this issue as it forces the leaner meat to break down through the masher's holes and gaps.

When to mash and when not to mash, that is the question

One time you shouldn't reach for your potato masher is when you're using enameled cookware. A metal utensil like a potato masher can chip and scratch a pan's enamel lining, so stick to the wooden spoon if you're cooking in your beautiful matte Le Creuset. Similarly, you should avoid any metal cookware when cooking with a nonstick pan.  This can result in chipping the pan's nonstick lining, which will make food stick to the surface. Worse yet, the lining might even break off into your food. 

While you have your potato masher out, it has plenty of other applications, too. It's a great tool for making egg salad, for example. Rather than dice the hard-boiled eggs, simply press down on them with your masher for immediate results. Or you can turn to it for perfectly mashed avocados. If you're looking for tofu crumbles to sub for ground meat, it will make short work of your tofu too. Need to mix up some pastry dough? Potato masher! Want to make a graham cracker crust but can't find your rolling pin? Potato masher! Just remember to also keep it on hand next time you need to break up ground meat. Oh yeah, and it works pretty well on potatoes too!