Deconstructed Lettuce Wraps

About once a week I do something with organic ground beef for my children’s dinner.  Quite often, I decide upon the easy crowd pleaser–Cheesy Ground Beef Pasta (I will not admit to using jarred Ragu Cheese Sauce for this original creation, as it goes against every fiber of my being, so please don’t look in my pantry).  Sometimes the beef thickens a homemade tomato sauce, becoming a rich Bolognese, and all too frequently we end up with tacos.  Easy to customize; everyone’s a satisfied customer. Last night, I decided to throw caution to the wind and go Asian.

My children love soy sauce, so with Asian we are starting from a place of “yes.”  They devour rice. And two out of three like lettuce, while the third at least tolerates it.  So I decided to go with Deconstructed* Lettuce Wraps.  In keeping with the kid-pleaser approach, I pulverized the vegetables that I thought would raise eyebrows (onion, mushroom–they’ll never know they’re in there) but if you are making this for adults or less picky children, feel free to keep things chunkier.  You could also add bean spouts, bamboo shoots or water chestnuts to the mix, I was tentative during this inaugural flight. If you are serving this dish to guests, saute some snap peas with a little sesame oil and grated ginger to round out the meal.

*Full disclosure: I went with “deconstructed” because I had bought bagged, pre-torn butter lettuce, therefore the pieces were not large enough to actually wrap the beef. I was also unsure how well this dish would be received so I figured that the rice base could serve as “filler.” After being met with rave reviews from my highly critical audience, I would be so brave as to serve this meal as Lettuce Wraps but do appreciate the ease of everyone eating from a bowl. With a fork. However, our dog Hoover would likely vote for “wraps” next go around. Surely, he’d be able to live up to his name.

Deconstructed Lettuce Wrap

Deconstructed Lettuce Wrap

Deconstructed Lettuce Wraps
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1 Tbls canola oil
  2. 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  3. 1 tsp chopped ginger
  4. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  5. 4 oz. mushrooms
  6. 1 lb. ground beef
  7. 2 Tbls fish sauce
  8. 2 Tbls  soy sauce
  9. 2 Tbls cider vinegar
  10. 3/4 cup shredded carrots
  11. basmati rice, about 1/2 cup cooked rice per serving (white or brown)
  12. butter lettuce, about 1/2 cup torn leaves per serving
  13. 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  14. lime wedges
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a saute pan over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, puree chopped onion in the food processor.  Once oil is heated, add onion and saute until translucent.  Replace the bowl of the food processor and puree the mushrooms. Set aside.
  2. When the onion becomes translucent, approx. 5 minutes, add ginger and garlic. Saute for about a minute before adding mushrooms. Saute the vegetables until the liquid has been released from the mushrooms and then add the ground beef.  Break-up beef (I use a handy tool from The Pampered Chef, but use whatever works for you) so that it is clump-free and cook until it is no longer pink.  At this point, carefully drain fat from the pan (I use a splatter guard to contain the beef while pouring the liquid into an empty coffee tin set in my sink) and return the pan to the heat.  Add fish sauce, soy sauce, cider vinegar and shredded carrots. Saute until carrots are slightly softened, about 4 minutes.
To Serve
  1. Place a generous spoonful of rice at the bottom of a bowl.
  2. Layer with torn lettuce leaves and top with a couple of spoonfuls of the beef mixture.
  3. Garnish with chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime.  Serve and enjoy!
Notes
  1. This recipe would be delicious with ground pork instead of beef.
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