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Think of this recipe as a formula for a simple, healthy and delicious appetizer or high meal. The basic formula is cooked ground beef, pork, chicken or lamb plus some sort of sauce, finished with some sort of toppings and eaten with lettuce. This recipe has an Italian-ish lean, but you can experiment with the style in countless ways. Try the formula with pork, peanut sauce and pickled veggies topped with mint or spicy lamb sausage with yogurt  cucumbers and feta. You get the picture, experiment!



  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon rendered lard, ghee, olive oil, or neutral cooking oil (used in 2 steps)
  • 1 medium red onion, minced
  • 1 large portobello mushroom, brushed clean, gills scraped away and discarded, minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 head of radicchio (Italian chicory), separated into individual leaves
  • Fresh basil leaves, torn or julienned, for garnish


1. Place a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add half of the fat or oil and the beef. Brown the beef and crumble with a spoon while it cooks. After the beef is browned, remove beef from skillet with a slotted spoon and set it aside. Drain fat/oil off of beef by placing it on a paper towel-lined plate and discard what is left in the pan. 

2. Add the remaining fat or oil to the pan and return to medium-high heat. Add and lightly sauté the red onion until the onion caramelizes slightly. Scrape up any browned beef remains (these tasty bits of flavor are called “fond”) and mix into the onion.  

Stir in the minced mushroom and sauté for about a minute or until the mushroom begins to give up its liquid. 

Sir in the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds or until the garlic becomes fragrant. Return the beef to the skillet and stir to combine thoroughly with the mushroom/onion mixture.  

3. Make a small well in the middle of the beef mixture and pour in the balsamic vinegar and the brown sugar. Allow the vinegar/sugar to reduce slightly and thicken. Thoroughly mix together the beef and thickened balsamic. Season with red chili flakes and Kosher salt to taste.  Serve warm beef and mushroom mixture in a bowl surrounded with the radicchio leaves. Garnish with basil. Spoon the beef into the radicchio leaves to eat.