What Is Mince and What Dishes to Cook of It

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beef_mince_cEconomical and highly nutritious, mince is wonderfully versatile and can be used as the main ingredient in a wide range of dishes, from pates and pasta sauces to hamburgers, kebabs, meatballs and meat loaves. Mince is a cheap form of protein and a little can be padded out with vegetables, pasta or rice to make a more substantial meal.


Types of mince

You can buy ready-minced meat or mince it yourself at home. Many types of mince tend to be quite high in fat so, for the sake of your health, it is usually better to choose extra lean mince, even though you will have to pay a little more for it.

  • Minced beef: this is the basis for most hamburgers, meat loaves and classic pasta sauces. Minced steak or extra lean minced beef are the most healthy choices.
  • Minced chicken and turkey: these are very low in fat and great for making into burgers and meatballs.
  • Minced lamb: any boneless lean cuts of lamb are suitable for mincing. Minced lamb is very popular in Middle Eastern dishes. It is often flavoured with aromatic spices and made into meatballs and kebabs. It is also the traditional ingredient in shepherd's pie and moussaka.
  • Minced pork: you can use lean pork or pork belly mince depending on the recipe. Try mixing it with grated onions and fresh herbs to make delicious burgers.
  • Minced veal: pie veal is suitable for mincing. It is ideal for meat loaves.

Equipment

If you want to mince the meat yourself, it is best to use an old-fashioned clamp-on mincer or a special mincing attachment to your electric mixer. A food processor can also be used for mincing but the mince will be very finely ground indeed, and more suitable for pates. Before mincing meat, trim away and discard any skin, gristle and most of the fat.

Buying, storing and freezing mince

When buying mince, check that it looks really fresh and is not discoloured. Don't be tempted by reduced-price mince which is on its sell-by date. It is always best to cook mince on the day of purchase as it does not keep well. Otherwise, wrap and store it overnight in the refrigerator before using the following day. Mince freezes successfully and you may find it helpful to buy it in larger quantities than you need and then to pack and seal it in 500 g (1 lb) bags. You can also freeze raw hamburgers and meatballs for cooking at a later date.

Cooking and flavouring mince

It is essential that mince is thoroughly cooked. Because it is so versatile, it can be fried or added to sauces and cooked on the hob, or baked in a pie or made into burgers and kebabs and then grilled or barbecued over hot coals.

You can flavour mince with most herbs (fresh or dried) and spices, tomato puree, soy, tabasco or Worcestershire sauces. Good combinations include:

  • Minced beef with thyme, fresh coriander or tomato puree.
  • Minced lamb with rosemary, mint, coriander or ground spices, such as cumin, allspice and nutmeg.
  • Minced pork with sage, onion and parsley.

Mincing cooked meat

Of course, a good way of using up leftover cooked meat, especially beef, lamb, pork, turkey or chicken from a Sunday roast, is to mince it and convert it into another dish. Traditionally, shepherd's pie and cottage pie were always made with minced cooked meat to transform the leftovers into a nourishing meal for another day. Cooked meat should always be wrapped or stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator away from uncooked meat, and it should be minced and eaten the following day.

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