7 Ways to Cook Mince
Mince is quick to cook, super versatile and very tasty. Here are 7 ways to cook it. All the ways listed below start off with a base of onions, garlic and possibly carrots and celery, cooked gently over a medium heat until they turn glossy, golden and soft. The mince is then added and browned off (optional) before the rest of the ingredients are added.
When buying mince always get the 5% fat version as it is less fatty and you get more end product. The higher the fat content the more grease you’re going to get on the top of the dish (and the more time you’re going to have to spend scooping it off again!) I’d avoid the pre-frozen mince unless you’re on a very tight budget or unless you’re using a vegetarian mince substitute such as Quorn or Soya mince.
Do I need to brown my mince before using it?
I usually do but many people don’t so I would try it both ways and see what you prefer. Some people find the texture can be quite mushy if you don’t brown it first but other people don’t notice a significant difference and find it saves loads of time not browning it. Do whatever works for you!
How to Brown Mince
To brown mince, add a couple of tablespoons of sunflower or olive oil into the pan over a medium heat and then add the mince and cook until it turns a nice brown colour. Keep stirring it so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. I normally cook the onion base first and then add the mince but again see what works for you.
First make the base
All of the recipe ideas below start with the same base of finely chopped onions and crushed cloves of garlic sauteed gently in a little olive or sunflower oil over a medium heat until they go soft and a golden, glossy colour. This can also be used as the base for casseroles, soups and stews. If you’re short of time or have a health condition which makes chopping onions difficult you can buy pre-chopped frozen onions and these work well. I like the frozen red onions but again, it’s a matter of personal taste.
If you’re batch cooking (making a bigger amount of mince than you need today to go into the freezer) you might need to use several onions and 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, but if you’re just cooking a smaller amount 1 medium onion will be fine. I normally use 2 cloves of garlic as one is never enough. If you don’t like garlic or are allergic to it, just leave it out.
If you have any carrots you could finely dice or grate these and add them to the mix along with a couple of finely chopped sticks of celery. If your family aren’t fond of the texture of celery (but aren’t actually allergic to it!) you could just put a could of washed celery sticks on top of the mince whilst it’s cooking then discard before serving.
Once you’ve got the base to be nice and glossy and golden you can add the mince and brown it off as discussed above.
Once you’ve got your onions nice and glossy and golden and the mince browned if you’re browning it, you can then add the herbs you need to turn this into Spaghetti Bolognese. I normally use a shaking of basil, thyme, rosemary and oregano. Or if you would like a little heat try adding a teaspoon of Spicy Italian Seasoning. Stir this in then add either a jar of passatta or a tin or two of chopped tomatoes. Stir in. If you like wine you can stir in a glass of red or white wine. Rose for some reason never really works. Add salt and pepper to taste.
If you are cooking on the hob top simmer for about 20-30 mins. If you prefer to slow cook your bolognaise sauce, here’s my Slow Cooked Spaghetti bolognaise recipe
Slow Cooked Spaghetti Bolognese
If you would like to use the slow cooker cook on high for 3-4 hours or low all day. I’d still recommend doing the pasta on the hob
To make the spaghetti
- Boil a kettle full of water
- Put the boiling water in a large pan over a medium heat
- Add a pinch of salt
- Bring back to the boil
- Add the pasta and cook for as long as it suggests on the packet.
- If you’re using fresh pasta from the fridge counter it may only take a couple of minutes but if you’re using dried pasta this may take 10-15 mins or so.
- Drain well using a colander
Serve with some freshly grated parmesan or grand pardamo cheese, some freshly ground black pepper and some Garlic Bread
What to do with Leftover Spaghetti Bolognese:
If you have any leftover bolognese sauce you can stir it into cooked pasta, sprinkle with cheese and bake in the oven until piping hot. Serve with salad and garlic bread.
Use the bolognaise sauce as the base for a lasagne
Or you could put in a freezer proof tub or bag and freeze for another day. Use within one month
Chilli Con Carne
To make chilli con carne follow the spaghetti bolognese sauce recipe but add a teaspoon of chilli powder and a shaking of paprika and a can of kidney beans in chilli sauce (if you using kidney beans that are in brine or water, drain first) and stir well.?
If you would like you can cook this in the slow cooker all day on low, or for 3-4 hours on high or on the hob for about 30 mins over a low heat.
Serve with rice in place of the pasta and tortilla chips and dips like soured cream and chives or guacamole.
What to do with Leftover Chilli con Carne
Make into Mexican Lasagne or have tomorrow for lunch if you’ve got a microwave at work or freeze in a freezable tub or bag and use within one month
Make chilli con carne and then layer this with tortilla wraps, cheese, cheese sauce and chilli con carne in an oven proof dish, in a similar way to how you’d make lasagne. Always finishing with a layer of cheese sauce sprinkled with cheese on the top. Bake in the oven on Gas mark 5 or 200oC until it’s hot and bubbly.
If you like you can use a home made cheese sauce or if time is limited use a white lasagne sauce or pot of pre-made cheese sauce.
Serve with salad, corn on the cob and tortilla chips and dips
Follow the chilli con carne recipe up to the bit where you add tomatoes. In place of the tinned tomatoes or passatta add one or two diced fresh tomatoes, a dollop of tomato ketchup and a squeeze of tomato purree and stir.
Add in some Spicy Italian Seasoning, some salt and freshly ground pepper, some chili powder? and some paprika and stir. The mixture should be a lot drier than chilli con carne. Once cooked (should take about 20 mins) serve with taco shells, salsa, cheese, salad, sour cream and chive dip and guacamole.
If you don’t have Taco shells to hand you can use pitta breads or tortilla wraps instead. Or serve in sheets of iceberg lettuce for a lower carb option.
Shepherds Pie or Cottage Pie
Shepherds pie uses Lamb Mince and Cottage Pie uses Beef Mince but the recipes are very similar.
After creating your usual base mix of onions, garlic, celery and carrot, brown the mince.
Once it’s brown, add some thyme, rosemary, black pepper and salt and stir. Add enough water to cover the mince mix and stir. Simmer for about 20 mins if you’re using the hob or cook all day on low in a slow cooker or on high for 3-4 hours.
Stir in some gravy granules until thick. Season to taste
To Make the Mashed Potato
Peel and boil some potatoes with a little salt until soft.
Take off the heat and drain thoroughly
Mash with a potato masher or fork
Stir in some milk, a large knob of butter and some salt and pepper
Tip the mince into an ovenproof dish
Spread or pipe onto the Mince mix and cook on Gas mark 6 or 200oC until bubbly and golden brown.
If you’re making cottage pie you might like to sprinkle some grated cheddar onto the mashed potato before it goes into the oven.
Serve with vegetables and gravy.
What to do with leftover Cottage/Shepherds Pie
If you have any leftovers they can be carefully transferred into a freezable tub and frozen for up to one month. Alternatively reheat them for lunch the next day if you have access to a microwave
Minced Beef and Dumplings
Cook the mince beef as per the Cottage pie recipe above. Cook on the hob for about 20 mins or in the slow cooker for 3-4 hours on high or all day on low
To make the dumplings
- Get 200g of Self Raising Flour
- A pinch of salt and pepper
- 100g of Suet (either vegetable or Beef Suet)
- Enough water to mix
Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl
Stir in cold water until they stick together and can be formed into dumplings
Pop on top of the mince mix and bake in the oven for 20 mins or so until golden or put into the slow cooker on top of the mince for the last hour of cooking
Serve with vegetables
What to do with leftover Minced Beef and Dumplings
If you have any leftovers you can freeze in a tub for up to one month or cool and cover and put in the fridge overnight then reheat for lunch. Always reheat cooked food on the hob, in the oven or in the microwave, never in the slow cooker.