Here in New Zealand we have “mince”. I believe it’s called ground beef in other parts of the world, but I will be sticking with mince here. Our mince was always made of beef when I was a little girl. Accordingly mince, in my mind and heart, will always refer to minced beef. Chicken, pork, venison, and lamb mince are more recent, gaining popularity over the last 20 or so years. Interestingly, turkey, which is such a big thing in America, is not what I’d call common here; and I’ve never seen minced turkey.
I’ve loved mince forever. I remember Mum making it when I was a kid and the savoury deliciousness was always a hit with me. Leftovers were common and using it up on toast for breakfast or lunch the following day was definitely a tasty bonus. Like soups and stews, the flavours only get better when it’s left to sit.
I am always surprised when I come across people who don’t like minced beef, citing it as bland and boring. I was fortunate to have a Mum who knew how to turn it into a flavoursome dish and that she taught me what she knew.
Besides it’s pure tastiness, I love how versatile mince is. Meatballs, lasagna, pasta sauce, burger patties, and more. But that is when it’s prepared from raw. It is just as versatile once cooked!
I love to make up a pot of mince and it is different EVERY time. I add, adjust, tinker from beginning to end until it’s “just right”. Recently a workmate expressed a desire to know my “recipe” for mince. Hmm! Tricky request when one never uses a recipe. How to convey a – bit of this, bit of that, bit more of this and then a dash of that to balance it?
So, I was challenged to bring the best of my flavour profiles into one simple recipe that would provide the best base for adjusting to preference or intended use.
So here I present my very tasty mince recipe base. I usually use 500g of mince, but for this recipe I’ve used a full kilogram. This gives plenty of scope for utilising leftovers in different ways and who doesn’t love having an easy meal ready to go on another day. But feel free to halve the recipe if you prefer.
It is delicious eaten as is. But it can also be transformed into other uses, some of which are given after the recipe.
Serving sizes will vary according to how you serve it.
♥ Ingredients ♥
1 T coconut oil
1kg minced beef
2 onions, chopped
1 large stalk celery, sliced
2 t minced garlic
2 T Worcester Sauce
2 T Soy sauce
2 T sherry
1.5 C beef stock
4 T sugar free tomato sauce
1/2 t crushed chilli (this adds complexity to the dish, it does not make it spicy)
Salt and pepper
1/4-1/5 t xanthan gum*
*If you are not low carb, then thicken the gravy with a paste made from 2 t cornflour and 2 t water.
♥ Method ♥
In a large pan or wok, melt 1 T of coconut oil. Add chopped onion and sliced celery. Stir fry 4-5 minutes until softened.
Add minced garlic (I use ready crushed garlic from a jar for speed and convenience. If using fresh you may want to adjust quantities) and stir fry for 1 minute.
Tip in the mince and break it apart as you stir fry it. When it is almost all browned, add the remaining ingredients and stir to mix thoroughly.
Simmer until liquid is reduced by half. Sprinkle over xanthan gum gradually and mix in well to create a gravy of the consistency you prefer. Amount needed will depend on your preference and also on how much the juices were reduced to begin with. A bit more beef stock or water can be added if it ends up too thick or with not enough gravy. Season to taste.
At this stage it is perfectly tasty and can be served alongside vegetables and sweet potatoes or ladled over some low carb ‘pasta’ (zucchini noodles, finely shredded cabbage or shirataki noodles).
add: vegetables of your choice and cook while the liquid is reducing. Last night I chose to add 1 C minted peas, 2 serves of frozen spinach and a 180g packet of fresh shirataki (zero) noodles. Serve piled in a pasta bowl.
Other great choices of vegetables to add are: grated carrot, grated zucchini, sliced mushrooms, shredded silverbeet, kale, or chopped green beans. It’s a fabulous way to get some more vegetables into picky eaters.
♥ Ideas for the leftovers ♥
Leftovers will keep in the fridge for several days. The mixture can again be eaten just as is, but why not mix it up a bit and create a tasty new meal. These options will stretch the number of servings gained and stave off culinary boredom.
♦ Option 1: To the leftover mince mixture, add 1 can crushed tomatoes; 1 T tomato paste, and 1/2 t mixed herbs. Heat through, adding more xanthan gum until desired consistency is reached. Serve over low carb pasta.
♦ Option 2: Follow instructions for option 1 and then layer with cheese and slices of eggplant in a baking dish and bake until bubbling hot.
♦ Option 3: Blanch some cabbage leaves and fill with spoonfuls of the mince mixture, wrapping up to form parcels. Top with grated cheese if desired.
♦ Option 4: Bake 4 whole sweet potatoes. Cut off the top and scoop out the flesh setting that aside for another meal. Stuff the hollowed sweet potatoes with the mince, top with cheese and heat in a 180 degree Celsius oven until piping hot all the way through (20-30 minutes).
♦ Option 5: Add additional vegetables not already in the dish. As additions can soften the richness of flavour, boost to taste with a touch more beef stock or soy sauce. Be careful not to overdo these or it may become unpleasantly salty.
♦ Option 6: Make up a low carb pizza base. Spread with a sauce of your choice and sprinkle over the mince mixture. Add sliced mushrooms, tomatoes, jalapenos and cheese. Bake 12-15 minutes. Thin 1 T sour cream with a little lemon juice, add chopped chives or parsley and drizzle over the pizza prior to serving.
♦ Options for the non-low carbers: Leftovers can be used as a filling for toasted sandwiches, baked potatoes or mixed with cooked pasta and cheese sauce then baked.
There are many other ways this can be doctored to suit a family’s or individual’s tastes. Play around and see what you like. If trying new ingredients, add a little at a time and taste after each addition until it tastes good to you.
You could try one of these flavourings:
- Curry powder or curry paste
- Hot sauce
- Crushed/grated ginger, fish sauce and fresh coriander
- Tinned pineapple with juice
This is certainly a dish that lends itself to experimentation and can be given a number of different flavour profiles. I would love if you gave it a go and to hear of any of your own variations that you may make. I’m always up for something new.
Thanks for reading and my wishes to you for
Happy and healthy eating,