Mince Meal Ideas

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Mince Meal Ideas
Rissoles contain mince and can be eaten alone or as an accompaniment to a pasta dish. (pasta and rissole image by Igor Zhorov from Fotolia.com)

Mince is an inexpensive, versatile ingredient. You can make a wide variety of meals with it, depending on the other ingredients you use. It can be a good way of getting children used to the taste of meat or disguising vegetables for picky eaters. Although most mince dishes are made with beef mince, you can substitute lamb or pork mince to change the taste.

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Rissoles are a kind of coated meatball made with mince, rice and spices. You can eat rissoles warm with a side of steamed vegetables or potato wedges, or cold with a side of salad and fresh vegetables. You can also use rissoles themselves as a side, accompanying them to a simple pasta dish.

Place raw mince together with cooked rice in a large bowl, using approximately one part of rice per three parts of mince. Add spices and seasoning to your taste, then gently mix together with your hands. Shape into balls, dip them into beaten egg and roll them in breadcrumbs. Flatten them slightly and deep fry them for a few minutes until the coating is crisp and brown, then place them on an ovenproof tray and bake them for about 20 minutes at moderate heat.

Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd's pie is an extremely versatile dish and a good way of using leftovers: you can add any kind of fresh or frozen vegetables to it. Add your favourite vegetables or simply use whatever you have on hand.

Peel, quarter and boil some potatoes. Fry the mince in a large pan on low heat, without adding any oil; add chopped onion, garlic, mushrooms and grated carrots. When the meat is almost cooked, strain the fat off the meat and add chopped rosemary, a handful of sweetcorn and a spoonful of tomato purée. Crumble in a stock cube and allow the mix to thicken. Drain and mash the potatoes, then transfer the meat into a large ovenproof dish and spread the mashed potatoes on top. Cook in a moderate oven for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden brown.

Chilli Con Carne

Accompany this dish with pasta, rice, or even salad and vegetables. You can make extra then freeze the leftovers to have a quick meal available when you don't feel like cooking.

Brown the mince on low heat while chopping onions, peppers, courgettes and tomatoes. When the mince is almost ready, add the chopped vegetables and stir vigorously. Turn the heat up and add chilli powder and other spices to your taste. Rinse some canned beans and add them to the mix along with enough tomato purée to thicken the sauce to your liking. Turn the heat to minimum, cover with a lid and simmer for approximately 30 minutes.

Meatballs and Hamburgers

Meatballs have almost infinite variations. Make basic meatballs by simply mixing some spices into raw mince and rolling it into balls, then lightly frying them in olive oil until they are brown all over. You can also roll the meatballs in flour or breadcrumbs before frying them. Add parsley, onions, carrots or other finely-chopped vegetables to the mince before rolling the meatballs; alternately, cook the meatballs in a sauce made from tomatoes and other vegetables. Leftover meatballs can be added to pasta or rice. Hamburgers are essentially flattened meatballs, but larger in diameter.

Bolognese Sauce

Bolognese sauce, also known as ragu sauce, is a traditional Italian pasta sauce. While it is normally made with beef mince, you can substitute lamb mince for the beef and use chopped rosemary instead of the bay leaf. In addition to putting it on pasta, you can make lasagne with bolognese sauce. Pour some white sauce on the bottom of a tall ovenproof dish, then layer a fresh lasagne sheet, bolognese sauce, more white sauce and grated Parmesan cheese. Repeat the layering process until you run out of lasagne sheets.

Lightly fry a finely chopped onion and a chopped carrot in a deep pot or pressure cooker, then add mince and stir until thoroughly browned, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon. Add a glass of white wine and allow it to evaporate. Add tomato sauce, salt, pepper, grated nutmeg and a fresh bay leaf. Cover the pot and simmer on low heat for one or two hours. If you are using a pressure cooker, the sauce will be ready in about half an hour.

Spicy Meat Pies

Meat pies can be eaten hot or cold. You can make small pies to eat as a snack, or larger pies to eat as a complete meal accompanied with a side of fresh or cooked vegetables. Any leftover cooked mince from making the pies can be eaten mixed with rice or as a pasta sauce with added tomatoes.

Lightly fry some chopped spring onions, a shallot, a clove of garlic and parsley in olive oil. Once the onions are soft, stir in the mince and add chilli powder to your taste. Cook for another ten minutes, or until the mince is thoroughly browned, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon. Roll out some puff pastry on a floured surface and cut into squares. Place some of the mince mixture on one square and cover it with another square, rolling the edges together so they won't come apart while cooking. Repeat the process until you run out of puff pastry or mince mixture. Brush the top of the pies with a beaten egg and bake in the oven on medium heat for 20 minutes, or until golden.

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