The Kitchen Tool That Makes Cooking Ground Meat Easier Than Ever

Imagine this tedious stovetop scene: you're in the middle of cooking up dinner, a dish with ground beef. Perhaps you're making a thick and hearty bolognese ragu sauce or whipping up a quick and easy pork fried rice dinner. The cooking oil is heating up in your cast iron skillet, with a few aromatics, like garlic and onion already sizzling.

The time comes to add your ground meat of choice. So you take your large and unwieldy lump of meat and drop it into the pan, armed only with a sad flat-headed wooden spoon or another inefficient cooking utensil to break up the ground meat into small, even pieces. You stab at the large slab of meat, trying to beat the heat. At first, you get two big uneven pieces, and then eventually — and not with a lot of effort — you get something resembling tiny bits of meat that will go well in a sauce. But sadly, there are still some larger chunks of meat, creating an uneven and un-aesthetically appealing end result. Luckily, there is an easy solution for cooking with ground meat that doesn't require years of practice, and the tool that it involves is likely already hidden away somewhere in your kitchen drawers.

A potato masher can also break up ground meat

One-purpose utensils, like a potato masher, are not often the star of the kitchen accessory show. Unlike multi-purpose objects, like the ancient mortar and pestle tool or a mandoline slicer, a potato masher is usually only trotted out for use when making, well, mashed potatoes. Luckily, a potato masher is not useful for just your potatoes, but for breaking up ground meat, too (via Serious Eats). 

If you are looking for a convenient hack to break up ground meat without breaking a sweat, look no further than food writer James Kenji López-Alt's ground meat hack: using a potato masher to break the ground meat apart so the pieces integrate evenly when adding them to sauces. To easily get the ground meat bits, which come through the other side of the potato masher, then you can employ your flat-headed wooden spoon to scrape the bits back into your pan. If that's too simple for your taste, you can always try evenly mincing your own meat instead of buying ground meat for a real culinary challenge.