Monday, April 07, 2008

Power of Persuasion

A suggestion for cutting costs, cutting time, and then freezing away surplus to use - again in various guises, through the month, rather than all in one week isl Magic Mince which can be cooked in bulk then to be later used (once thawed) for: Cottage Pie, Spaghetti Bolognaise, Chilli Con Carne, and even Biryani. Not to mention a filling for a not-quite-Cornish Pasty.
basic minced beef recipe: (F)
2 tblsp sunflower or olive oil
3 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 pint (575ml) beef stock
pinch mixed dried herbs
Fry the onion in the oil, then add the garlic and minced beef, breaking it all up with a wooden spoon to avoid lumps* - this may have to be done in batches. Cook for 15 minutes, then add the stock and , simmer and cook for 30 minutes (if minced steak is used), or longer until the meat is tender. Cool and freeze in small containers** for up to 3 months.
*Mixing most of the oil in with the mince helps to prevent it clumping together when frying. The chopped onion could also be worked in with the mince and the lot fried together.
**Freeze the cooked mince in small containers as small packs thaw out faster, and also larger packs may contain more meat than is needed for a particular recipe, especially when extra vegetables can be added to stretch the meat further.

for cottage pie:
mix diced cooked carrot into the 'magic mince' or cover with a layer of diced cooked carrot and top with mashed potato. Heat through in a hot oven.
for spag.bol:
Saute diced carrot and celery, more onion if you wish, and (optional) a finely chopped rasher of bacon. Sliced mushrooms can also be added. When the veggies are tender, stir in an equal quantity of 'magic mince'. Add a can of chopped tomatoes, a good dash of Worcestershire sauce (a small glass of red wine also improves the dish) add seasoning to taste, and simmer until the liquid has reduced. Have ready some cooked and drained pasta, then fold this into the meat sauce and serve.
If you wish you could blitz up the sauteed vegetables, bacon and mushrooms with the chopped tomatoes, to make a thick sauce and mix the meat into this before adding the pasta.
for chilli con carne:
Heat the 'magic mince' in a frying pan with a can of chopped tomatoes, a tblsp tomato puree, stir in chilli powder to taste, a teaspoon of sugar and add a can of red kidney beans.
Heat the 'magic mince' through in a pan and stir in teaspoons of curry paste to the strength you desire. Using an oiled ovenproof dish, layer the meat with cooked long-grain rice that has been mixed with flaked almonds, sultanas, crispy fried onions, ginger...finishing with rice on top. Cover and heat through in the oven.
not quite a Cornish Pasty:
Mix the 'magic mince' with cooked diced swede and/or potato, and spoon into the centre of short pastry circles, folding in half and sealing the edges. Cook in the oven 200C etc until the pastry is cooked.