The joy of mince

Mince – the staple of family cooks across the land – from cottage pie to lasagne it’s the ingredient most likely to be in my shopping basket week in week out.

It’s versatility coupled with the fact that it’s easy for kids to eat more than earns its status as a food hero.

This week I fancied making a pie with it. I just bought a pack of puff pastry and a pack of mince and decided to let my storecupboard do the rest. I wanted to get away from the usual tomato-based mince and go for a more savoury beefy feel. I had a quick flick through Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food for a bit of inspiration.

This particular book is aimed at non-cooks and provides you with some fabulous building blocks and ideas of where to go with them. For example there’s a cracking stew recipe and then four ways of topping it so your family doesn’t get bored of your cooking! There’s a whole section on curries too which I’ve been meaning to explore.

It’s a fab book for family meal ideas – even if you’re a confident cook it’s great to be reminded of the classics and I find Jamie’s recipes to be consistently excellent.

So I used his Classic Mince and Onion Pie recipe as my guide here with a few tweaks. My favourite thing about making a yummy batch of savoury mince is that you can bung in a bit of this and a bit of that and it comes out a treat.

If you’ve got to the end of a jar of marmite, just put some hot water from the kettle into the jar, swirl it about and chuck the marmitey liquid into your mince. This works with ketchup or brown sauce bottles too.

I’d highly recommend making a large batch of this mince, then freeze down the leftovers to whip up a quick cottage pie or jacket potato filling.

Minced beef puff pastry pie (Serves 4)

2 onions, chopped (as fine or as rough as your kids will tolerate!)
2 carrots, chopped
2 tsps dried rosemary
2 tbsp olive oil
2 bay leaves
500g good quality minced beef
1 tsp english mustard powder
1 tsp marmite
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
2 tsp flour, plus extra for dusting
1 litre beef stock
500g puff pastry
1 egg beaten, or a splash of milk

1. Heat the oil in a large lidded pan and add the onion, carrots, rosemary and bay leaves and stir until softened and slightly coloured: 5-10 mins.

2. Add the mince – breaking up any large chunks with a wooden spoon. Add the mustard, marmite, worcestershire sauce and 2 teaspoons of flour and give it a good stir. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Partially cover and simmer for about an hour, stirring every now and again to stop it catching. (I found the liquid took a while to reduce so after 45 minutes I turned up the heat and let it bubble enthusiastically for about 10-15 mins until it had thickend)

3. Fill a pie dish with your mince and allow it to cool.

4. Pre-heat the oven to 180’C and take the pastry out of the fridge 10 minutes before you need to use it. Dust a clean work surface with flour and then roll out your pastry until it’s about the thickness of a £1 coin and large enough to cover your pie dish. Wind the pastry around your rolling pin and then unwind it over the top of your dish. Run a knife around the edges and trim off any excess pastry.

5. Use a fork and crimp down the edges, and stab a knife into the centre of your pie so the air can release. Brush the pastry with beaten egg or a little milk.

6. Put it on the bottom shelf of your oven for around 40 minutes, until golden and crisp. Serve with fresh steamed greens.

Matthew was delighted to be greeted by the meat pie aroma as he returned from work and it seemed to drive the boys into a hunger-fuelled frenzy. I really couldn’t plate it up fast enough!

It was devoured in minutes – I wish I’d made double…

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About Katie Bryson

Katie Bryson is a freelance food writer and blogger. She left a career in online news at the BBC to immerse herself in the culinary world, taking in courses at Leiths School of Food and Wine and an internship at Waitrose along the way. Her family food blog www.feedingboys.co.uk is bursting with recipes and tips for feeding hungry families that’ll help inspire all those frazzled parents out there wondering what on earth to cook for tea! She lives in West London with her two young boys and yes, her firefighter husband.
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4 Responses to The joy of mince

  1. I’m with you. If my children didn’t like mince they’d be in a world of trouble.

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