how to add baking soda to ground beef

Here’s the insurance policy: Add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda per pound of ground beef, giving it a good mix around; allow the mixture to sit for at least 15 minutes prior to cooking; and then cook it in a dry — the beef renders its fat — pan on medium-high heat. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

For a fully-favored ragu sauce, tasty taco filling, or aromatic chili, the first step is browning your ground beef to perfection. Caramelizing your beef sounds like an easy ask, but this can quickly turn into a juicy mess. As you sear ground beef, some of the beefs moisture is released. If youre working with a large portion of ground beef or too small of a pan, this moisture will overwhelm the meat, leading to boiled rather than browned beef. One solution is to cook your meat in incremental, small batches — but not every cook has the time (or dishes) to pull this off. The faster, easier way to properly brown your beef? Add a bit of baking soda.

Yes, this baking staple can do more than help your buttermilk biscuits rise. For browned beef, baking soda (a base) helps combat the excess moisture by changing the pH of the beef. This scientific tampering keeps the beef proteins from bonding too strongly, which helps prevent moisture from being expelled during the browning process. The result: foolproof caramelized ground beef.

The secret to cooking better ground beef is baking soda

This is not a “new” hack or recent discovery, so I’m not sure how I missed it all these years, but I’m glad it’s finally made its way into my brain. I happened across it on the America’s Test Kitchen Instagram account (which features a graphic taken from a five-year-old chili recipe).

Last night, I finally tried it with a little over a pound of ground meat I needed to use up. I sprinkled about a third of a teaspoon of baking soda over the meat, gave it a toss, left it alone for 15 minutes, then cooked it in a pan over medium-high heat.

I am not used to being floored by ground beef, but I was just that—floored. Even after somewhat excessive fiddling and stirring, the beef bits developed a deep, brown crust, and the usual pool of liquid was reduced to a mere puddle. It was also much more tender. There was no rubbery bounce, no unpleasant chew—just beautifully browned pieces of beefy tasting meat.

From there, its business as usual with browning ground beef. Still, even with this baking soda safety net, try not to tempt fate. Continue to follow other good beef browning techniques, like using a large, heat-retaining pan and being careful not to overcrowd it. The baking soda has done most of the hard work, you just need to nail that caramelized and crispy dismount.

To bring this hack to your home kitchen, start with this basic ratio: use a quarter to a half teaspoon of baking soda with a tablespoon of water for every pound of ground beef. Try to sprinkle this as evenly as you can over the beef so that it doesnt accumulate in one area. Next, let the beef mixture sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes. You need this time to let the baking soda work its chemical magic, raising the pH of the beef. Dont worry if you go past the 15 minutes, as the reaction works quickly but doesnt go rampant once it does kick in. As an added bonus, room-temperature ground beef browns better than cold browned beef, as the hot pan doesnt lose momentum from introducing a cold substance. One safety note, dont leave your meat out past 2 hours, as youre likely to spoil your beef at that point.

Yes, this baking staple can do more than help your buttermilk biscuits rise. For browned beef, baking soda (a base) helps combat the excess moisture by changing the pH of the beef. This scientific tampering keeps the beef proteins from bonding too strongly, which helps prevent moisture from being expelled during the browning process. The result: foolproof caramelized ground beef.

For a fully-favored ragu sauce, tasty taco filling, or aromatic chili, the first step is browning your ground beef to perfection. Caramelizing your beef sounds like an easy ask, but this can quickly turn into a juicy mess. As you sear ground beef, some of the beefs moisture is released. If youre working with a large portion of ground beef or too small of a pan, this moisture will overwhelm the meat, leading to boiled rather than browned beef. One solution is to cook your meat in incremental, small batches — but not every cook has the time (or dishes) to pull this off. The faster, easier way to properly brown your beef? Add a bit of baking soda.

Why does adding baking soda to ground meat make it cook faster?

Why does this work? The baking soda (which is very basic) raises the pH of the meat, preventing the proteins from bonding excessively (and thus squeezing water out); this keeps everything nice and tender, and prevents that pool of liquid from forming. The drier your pan, the faster your food will brown but, according to ATK, alkaline environments are also far more favorable for the Maillard reaction—the “chemical between amino acids and reducing sugars” that gives browned food its look and flavor.

You can add baking soda to cuts of meat as well. Ratio-wise, ATK recommends 1/4 teaspoon for every 12 ounces of ground meat, and a whole teaspoon for every 12 ounces of sliced meat. Mixing the baking soda with a tablespoon or two of water can help evenly distribute it (especially if you’re dealing with sliced stuff), but I found the “sprinkle and go” method to be quite effective with the ground stuff. Toss the raw meat with the bicarb (I just broke it up with a wooden spoon and pushed it around), wait 15 minutes (more time won’t amplify the baking soda’s effects), then cook via your normal method.

Here’s the insurance policy: Add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda per pound of ground beef, giving it a good mix around; allow the mixture to sit for at least 15 minutes prior to cooking; and then cook it in a dry — the beef renders its fat — pan on medium-high heat. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

FAQ

How much baking soda for 2 lbs ground beef?

However, by gently tossing a baking soda solution with the meat (about ¾ teaspoon baking soda to 2 tablespoons water for 2lbs of grind) and letting sit for 15 to 20 minutes before cooking, beef loses less liquid, browns faster and tastes better.

Is it safe to use baking soda on beef?

Less than a teaspoon of baking soda ensures that your steak remains juicy and tender—even after a speedy marinade. While other recipes demand hours of marinating, this baking soda hack makes a flank steak or any other fibrous cut of beef ready to sear after just an hour.

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