On busy weeknights when I’m tempted to order in, this is the recipe I’ve been turning to again and again. Inspired by a takeout favorite, this weeknight recipe features ground beef that’s cooked until the edges are nice and crispy, quick stir-fried veggies, and an irresistible sticky orange sauce. You’ll definitely want plenty of rice to soak up the extra sauce.
Crispy orange beef typically starts with strips of sliced beef, but here we’re swapping in quicker-cooking, budget-friendly ground beef. Before doing anything else, take the beef out of the fridge. The longer it has to come close to room temperature, the better. The meat will cook more evenly and crisp against the hot pan rather than steam. A large pan with a lot of space also helps prevent steaming, so grab the biggest one you’ve got!
For a Faster Dinner, Embrace the “Meanwhile”
My go-to tactic for making dinner prep as efficient and speedy as possible is to embrace the “meanwhile.” This means that instead of prepping all the ingredients at the onset (as we’re often told to do), you should work as you go. Here that means bringing the beef closer to room temperature while you whisk together the sauce. Then, while the beef cooks, use those few minutes to chop the onion and pepper and slice the scallions.
Crispy Orange Ground Beef & Veggies
1 pound ground beef
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from 1 medium navel orange)
3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh orange zest
1 medium onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks
Cooked rice, for serving
2 medium scallions, thinly sliced
Remove the beef from the refrigerator and set out at room temperature while you make the sauce.
Place the orange juice, tamari or soy, sesame oil, brown sugar, cornstarch, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and red pepper flakes in a measuring cup with a spout or small bowl and whisk to combine; set aside.
Heat 1/2 tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan over high heat until shimmering. Add the beef and season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Press the meat into an even layer and cook undisturbed until the bottom is brown and crisped, about 4 minutes. Break up the meat with a wooden spoon, then press it into the pan to help it brown. Cook until well-browned and crisp all around, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a large paper towel-lined plate.
Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon oil around the pan. Add the orange zest, onion, and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally until slightly tender, about 3 minutes. Rewhisk the sauce, pour into the pan, and stir to coat the vegetables. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened, about 1 minute. Return the beef to the pan and stir to combine. Serve over rice, topped with scallions.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.