I got all set to make one of Hubby Dear's favorite meals. You'll be astonished to hear that it was a casserole. ;) Uh oh - I had only thawed 1 lb of ground beef and the recipe required 1-1/2 lbs. What was I to do? Eating out was not an option. Literally. There aren't many options unless we want to drive 45 minutes away.
In a temporary flash of genuis, I remembered a post I had read on the Honeyville Farms Cookin' Cousins blog. What about extending the ground beef with cooked, cracked wheat? If you've been following me over the long haul, you'll remember that my first experience with cracked wheat was less than stellar. Nevertheless, I decided to give it the ol' college try.
|Getting ready to crack wheat in my blender|
My Wondermill Juniorwould have been the best choice to crack the wheat, but I was feeling lazy, so I decided to try using my blender again. I had the bright idea that the blender might do a better job cracking the wheat if I poured the wheat in while I had it running. I don't know what possessed me - maybe I was thinking of when you make salad dressings and pour in the oil slowly at the end. Needless to say, the wheat shot back at me, giving my complexion the "been in a dust storm" look and adding to the lovely lived-in look of my kitchen.
Much like the last time I attempted to crack wheat in the blender, I ended up with a mix of whole kernels, cracked kernels, and flour. Sigh. I decided to proceed on anyway.
I brought a cup of slightly salted water to a boil and threw in 1/4 cup of cracked(ish) wheat. I stirred it every now and then as it cooked down and softened. It took about 15 minutes or so and then I threw it in with the cooked ground beef and onions for my recipe.
|Adding cooked, cracked wheat to the beef and onion mixture|
|When you stir it in, you can barely see it|
I added the sauces and seasoning and followed the rest of the recipe as written.
It worked!! My kids couldn't tell anything was different at all. Hubby Dear noticed a bit of a difference in texture, but didn't say anything until I quizzed him. I actually think I prefer it with the wheat. The slightly toothsome texture was welcome.
I wouldn't hesitate to substitute cooked, cracked wheat for part of ground beef in a recipe. As long as it is going to get seasoned or incorporated into a sauce, the wheat just blends in with the rest of the dish.
I never thought I'd say this but cracked wheat came to my rescue!