Are you in a ground meat rut? Do you keep making the same chili and taco fillings? (I am and I do!) If so, try these simple and scrumptious ground meat dishes, one enlivened by Asian flavors, the other with the taste of Central America.


Just about everybody loves these cute, fat, cigar-shaped wraps. It’s fun – as well as delicious – food. Peanut sauce, sometimes called peanut satay sauce, comprises ground peanuts, coconut milk, tamarind, chilies, and other seasonings. It can be found in the international food section of the supermarket. Thai Kitchens brand is especially good. Serve these rolls with Asian noodles, fresh (usually found in the produce aisle) or dried and tossed with scallions, cilantro, sesame oil, and rice wine vinegar. You can also buy noodles that come with a seasoning pack.

Serves 4

1½ pounds ground pork or mixed ground meat

1 large onion, chopped

½ cup Asian peanut sauce

1½ tablespoons soy sauce

1 medium-large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped (about 1½ cups)

½ cup torn mint leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 to 16 large Boston lettuce leaves

About 1 cup sprouts – bean, pea or other

Cook pork and onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring to break up large clumps of meat, until meat browns and onion softens, about 10 minutes. Spoon off any excess fat.

Add peanut sauce, soy sauce, cucumber and mint and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (Can be made a couple of hours ahead and held at cool room temperature; if cooked ahead, stir in cucumber and mint at the last minute.)

When ready to serve, reheat meat mixture gently. Open a lettuce leaf, spoon in some meat mixture, add some sprouts, fold in sides, roll up and eat.


This Central American/Caribbean ground meat stew is flavored with fragrant spices and has a piquant sweet-sour finish from the raisins and vinegar. Serve it with white rice tinted yellow with turmeric and spinach salad drizzled with a creamy dressing.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil

1½ pounds ground beef or mixed ground meat

2 onions, chopped

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)

1 (14½-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 (14½-ounce) can chicken broth

2/3 cup raisins

¼ cup cider vinegar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet. Cook the meat and onions in the oil over medium-high heat, stirring to break up clumps of meat, until beef begins to brown, about 8 minutes.

Add the chili powder, oregano, cinnamon, cloves and cayenne and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, broth, and raisins and simmer uncovered over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes. Add vinegar and simmer for a few minutes until mixture is thickened to a stewlike consistency.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. (Can be made up to two days ahead and refrigerated or frozen.)

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Chowderland: Hearty Soups & Stews with Sides and Salads to Match.” She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at:

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