Whether it's for projects like Bolognese ragu or quick meals like tacos, browning ground beef is a critical first step. So what pan should you use for the job?
No matter what the final product will be, there's one choice that Chowhounds eliminate for browning ground beef: nonstick pans. DuffyH has tried it, and spent the whole time chasing the meat around on the too-slippery surface while trying to break up the beef.
The best pan for the job, though, depends on what you're doing. A seasoned cast-iron or carbon-steel pan is fine if the ground beef will be used on its own or cooked with only nonacidic ingredients like potatoes, sueatmo says, but if you're going to be adding tomatoes or other acidic foods (like lime juice) to the mix, Davwud says to keep in mind that cast iron and acid don't mix. Instead, choose a pan with a nonreactive surface, such as an enameled cast-iron pan or stainless steel, DuffyH says; for sauces, you can brown the meat and then add liquid to deglaze and continue building the sauce right in the same pan. Use medium heat to brown the meat and carefully soak up extra fat with a paper towel, DuffyH says.
Photo of Lasagna alla Bolognese by Chris Rochelle / CHOW.com