I am a carnivore. In fact, I’m not sure there’s even been one day of my life that I didn’t have some sort of meat protein in my diet. I’ve never really thought about it or analyzed this fact as a positive or negative thing. It’s simply just the way it is. Just recently have I begun to be drawn to beans. Beans in my life have been associated with thick tomoatoey chili, or baked with plenty of ketchup and brown sugar. They were always the filler…not the star of the dish. They seemed to be there just to stretch things out; something I put up with because of the other great flavors in the dish. Then I met chickpeas, or garbonzo beans if you want. When prepared properly (meaning rinsed well and heated or even browned), even canned chickpeas can taste great and have become one of my favorite go-tos for quick weeknight suppers.
Mark Bittman is a well respected food writer and author of Food Matters In it, he discusses some ideas about the effect our food has on the world we live in and also how it affects our waistline. Take it or leave it, one of his underlying suggestions is to eat less meat. Not something I’d find myself drawn to, but I’m always interested in another opinion. I found this recipe of his in the Essential New York Times Cookbook and thought I’d try it. Meat is not the highlight of this dish, it’s merely a flavoring.
(I have access to great beef from my family’s farm. If you don’t, I can totally understand your aversion to grocery store beef. When I have to, I buy Laura’s Lean and really like it. This dish would be great with any ground meat. I think chicken sausage or Italian pork sausage would be great in this dish too.)
I was concerned that so little ground beef would not be filling enough to consitute a meal. Honestly, I didn’t even miss the meat and this dish has quickly entered into the weekly rotation. If you’re hesitant about beans, or feel that you can’t live without a large serving of meat, or heck, just looking to try something a little different, this recipe won’t disapoint.
I found spreading this over some cilantro adobo rice and squeezing fesh lime over top really completed this quick delicious meal.
Crispy Chickpeas with Ground Beef
Adapted from: Mark Bittman and The Essential New York Times Cookbook
1/2 pound ground beef
2 15oz cans cooked chickpeas, drained and well rinsed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 cup chicken stock
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
chopped fresh cilantro and lime wedges for garnish
Turn heat to medium high under a large, deep skillet (I used my cast iron frying pan), and add meat a little at a time, breaking it into small pieces as you do. Stir and break up meat a bit more, then add chickpeas. Keep heat high, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until chickpeas begin to brown and pop, 5 to 10 minutes. Don’t worry if mixture sticks a bit, but if it begins to scorch, lower heat slightly.
Add cumin, red pepper flakes and garlic. Cook, stirring, for about a minute. Add chicken stock, and stir, scraping bottom of pan to loosen any browned bits. Season with salt and pepper, then turn heat to medium-low. Continue to cook until mixture is no longer soupy but not dry. Remove from heat and drizzle in the olive oil.
Sprinkle cilantro over top before serving. Serve with rice and garnish with fresh lime wedges.