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What's the best way to cook ground beef for taco meat or pasta sauce, etc.? Specifically I mean do I cook it at a high temp for a shorter time, or start lower and cook longer?
Definitely start with high heat. As we mentioned in our TipOfTheDay today, searing meat is important. It adds flavor and texture. Ground beef is no exception. Start with a very hot pan and enough oil to coat the bottom of it. Get it HOT. I'd even let the oil start smoking just barely before adding the meat. Don't overcrowd the pan. Use a big enough pan that you can get the meat to fit in a layer no more than about 3/4" deep. Add the meat, spread it out in the pan, and leave it alone! That last part is key. If you move it around too much it won't brown well. Let it get deep golden brown before you stir it. A good sear like this, coupled with a good amount of salt and pepper.... you're good to go!