My fallback plan whenever there's nothing in the house but some ground meat is to make a simple hash with onions and potatoes. It's something I remember my mother making when I was little and something my kids now love, too. In fact, the 11YO loves it so much, he's become rather picky about what's supposed to be an unfussy dish with ever-flexible parameters. Observe:
Him: This isn't as good as last time.
Me: It's a little different. Last time I used sausage. This is ground beef.
Him: The sausage was better. The chunks of meat were bigger. And the potatoes weren't so small. And they were squares.
Him: Don't worry, you'll get it right next time!
I'll get it right next time? Looks like someone's going to be learning how to make his own hash in the very near future!
If using plain ground beef or pork, I like to add a mashed clove or two of garlic and spices like garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, and maybe a pinch of ground ginger or cloves. Sometimes I'll add some dried thyme, sage, or fennel seeds. You can also season it with Worcestershire sauce, which is what I remember as a kid.
2 tablespoons bacon fat or olive oil
1 lb. ground breakfast sausage or any other ground meat of your choice
2 to 3 medium starchy potatoes, like Yukon gold, unpeeled
1 yellow onion, chopped
Salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce to taste
Heat 1 tablespoon of fat in a large skillet and brown the meat, breaking up the pieces into mini-meatball nuggets, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Cut the potatoes into large chunks and add them to a blender. Fill with enough water to cover the potatoes. Pulse the motor several times until the potatoes are cut into smallish shards. You're not trying to puree the potatoes, merely chop them small. They smaller they are, the faster they cook. Keep the potato pieces in the water so they don't turn brown. (You could also just chop them instead.)
Heat the remaining tablespoon of fat in the same pan and cook the onions for 4 minutes until they're translucent and lose their crunch. Pour the potato mixture through a strainer over the sink to drain the water. Add the potatoes to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Return the browned meat to the pan and add the seasonings of your choice with plenty of salt and pepper. Cook 10 to 15 minutes more until the potatoes are done and everything smells delicious. Serve with some kind of vegetable. Any leftovers made a great pizza topping or frittata filling.