Blogger at The Stone Soup and food scientist Jules Clancy has been in my orbit for a while. She shared some nifty recipes using five ingredients or less here a while back. Recently we shared our love of meat. From a sustainability POV, it uses up perfectly good off-cuts. From a budget POV, it’s cheap. From a convenience POV, it’s radical. Jules also adds that from a cooking POV, it’s “forgiving”. Which is to say, it’s hard to fork it up!
Here she shares six ways to max your mince experience, beyond the spag bol usual.
1. Stir fry it.
Mince is brilliant in stir fries because it cooks quickly and has lots of surface area to absorb the flavours of your sauce and other ingredients. It also saves you from having to thinly slice your meat.
Next time you’re planning to cook your favourite stir fry, use minced meat instead of your normal chicken breast or thighs.
Beef & Broccoli Stir Fry
Serves 2- 3
- 500g ground (minced) beef
- 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
- 2 heads broccoli
- 4 tablespoons oyster sauce (soy or Tamari, if you’re sugar free)
- 1 bunch coriander, chopped
Preheat a large wok or frying pan on a very high heat. Add a few tablespoons neutral flavoured oil and stir fry the beef. While the beef is browning, finely slice the broccoli stems and chop the head into bight sized trees. Add garlic to the beef and continue to cook until well browned. Add broccoli and a few tablespoons water and cover the pan. Continue to cook on a high heat with the lid on, stirring every 2 minutes until the broccoli is bright green and tender but still a tiny bit crunchy. If it starts to burn, add a little more water. Stir in oyster sauce. Taste and season and serve with chopped coriander on top.
Some extra options:
- Chilli beef: add in some fresh or dried chilli.
- Ginger: add a few tablespoons of finely shredded fresh ginger in with the garlic.
- Nutty: a handful of roasted cashews adds a different dimension and some crunch.
2. Think outside the bun.
OK so you’ve probably used mince to make burgers before. But have you ever tried serving your burger patty as “star of the show”, rather than slapping it in a bun? A well made burger can be just as delicious as a juicy steak.
My favourite way to cook grown-up burgers is to keep it simple with just mince in your patty. I then cook it on a salt crust as in the recipe below. The salt helps give that lovely flavoursome crust on the outside of your burgers. It’s a little thing that really makes a difference. I then serve the burgers as the ‘hero’ with a green salad on the side and a good sauce. Usually either a homemade barbecue sauce, hollandaise or aioli.
Salt Crusted Burgers
- 200g – 225g minced (ground) meat (beef is of course the classic. But buffalo, lamb, pork, chicken or turkey are all good. Just make sure there’s a bit of fat so they aren’t too dry.)
- salt, to taste
Heat a frying pan or skillet on a super high heat for at least 3 minutes. You want it smoking hot. Meanwhile shape meat into burger patties. Sprinkle a very fine layer of fine salt onto the pan and slide the burgers on top. Cook for 4 minutes then turn, adding a little more salt. Once the burgers are turned, cook for another 4 minutes or until burgers are how you like them.
3. Don’t forget about sausages.
The thing with sausages is there’s a huge difference between a good quality butcher’s banger and the cheapo ones available in the supermarket. Sausages are a convenient alternative to plain mince as the butcher add seasonings so you don’t have to. I often remove the casings from my sausages and use the meat anywhere I’d normally use mince.
[You might like to try my recipe for sausage and beetroot hash -I use the same technique Sarah]
4. Try flavours from different countries.
The large surface area of mince makes it perfect for soaking up different flavours or seasonings. For example, boring old meatballs can be given a new lease of life by seasoning chicken mince with soy sauce and sesame oil and serving with fresh mint and coriander to make Vietnamese chicken balls as in the recipe below.
Mexican cooking is no stranger to the joys of mince. When you’re tired of tacos and chilli con carne, explore other Mexican flavours like jalapeño chillies and coriander together in a chilli verde, or green chilli.
Lebanese kofta are another brilliant mince dish. Seasoned with ground cumin and onion these sausage shaped meatballs, cooked on a skewer, are wonderful served with lashings of hummus and some tabbouleh on the side.
The Turkish have their own version of kofta, small round meatballs made with lamb mince simmered in a tomatoey sauce. I love them served with fresh mint and a drizzle of natural yoghurt. And don’t forget Turkish pizza topped with minced lamb, tomato, onion and pine nuts.
5. Vietnamese Chicken Balls.
Vietnamese food is one of my favourite Asian cuisines. All those fresh herbs and pungent fish sauce combined with hot hot chilli, it’s hard to be bored with all the wonderful flavours. I also love the French influences, like their love of coffee and crusty bread.
Serve meatballs with fresh herbs such as coriander, mint or basil. And steamed rice or cauliflower rice (grated raw cauliflower).
Vietnamese Chicken Balls
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste or ketchup
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 500g minced (ground) chicken
- 5 small mushrooms
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
Place a large fry pan on a high heat and add tomato paste or ketchup, 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer. Combine chicken, chopped mushrooms, sesame oil and 2 tablespoons soy sauce in a large bowl. Using your hands and a tablespoon, shape the mixture into walnut sized balls, placing them in the simmering sauce as you go. Cover the meatballs and simmer gently for 7-8 minutes. When the meatballs are cooked through serve hot.
Some extra options:
- Vegetarian: replace the chicken with 1 can drained lentils, 1 egg and 75g almond meal.
- Want a meaty version? Replace the chicken with pork, veal or even beef.
- No sesame oil? Just skip it or replace with toasted sesame seeds.
- Gluten-free: make sure you’re using Tamari or other good quality gluten-free soy sauce.
6. Indonesian spag bol.
I’ve also been known to make an Indonesian version of spag bol. Replace your spaghetti with fresh plump hokkien noodles and season your browned mince with hoisin sauce and green onions instead of the regular tomato and garlic Italian combo.
So I challenge you to try a new way with mince in the next week. Your taste buds AND your wallet will thank you for it.
Any special meals you make up with mince? Feel free to add below. And if you loved what Jules shared, why not check out her ebook bundle.