So many of us were brought up on mince. Grey and unappetising for school dinners, and brown and unappetising at home. Little imagination was given to this perennial staple and little thought. Mince was invariably beef but, done well, it could have been comfort on a plate.
Favourite Mince Recipes honestly pushes the envelope and considers mince in all its guises. We might well still associate mince with all things bovine, but it is just a term for any foodstuff finely chopped. The author Lee Blaylock offers all meats, as well as fish and sweet festive fruit mincemeat for good measure. She illustrates, with over 100 recipes, that mince is a universal, economic and tasty fast food.
Perhaps it’s a generalisation to say that mince is only for quick meals. There are plenty of traditional dishes included in this book that are simple but are coaxed into culinary perfection by slightly longer cooking than we might lavish on a stir-fry. Chicken Pasta Bake requires little preparation but it takes a while to cook. No need to sit by the oven and watch – make a cup of tea and read some more of these tempting recipes while your dinner bubbles.
Lamb mince is under-rated but there is a good selection of recipes in this book. Traditional Shepherd’s Pie is included here. It’s the lamb version of Cottage Pie which uses beef. 30 minutes baking time but it’s a hearty winter supper, great for making in advance and it’s just as good the next day (one might not like to admit it but you know it’s true). Beef Meatloaf is another dish that does double duty: first as a hot meal and then as a cold sandwich-filler. Ensure that the mix is well seasoned, as cold food tends to be less flavourful.
There are a number of must-try recipes from this volume. Beijing Noodles is a fast meal with both plenty of taste and a silky texture. Here it is made with pork with a little Hoisin sauce and Sichuan pepper for an authentic flavour. It’s worthwhile getting the Sichuan pepper as it has a distinctive aroma.
My pick-of-the-book would have to be the recipe for Murtabak which is a Malaysian beef-roti wrap. The filling can be made in advance and the roti can be found in Asian grocers, although they can be made at home for an even more delightful result. The filling is seasoned with spices found in most enthusiastic Asian cooks’ larders: ginger, chilli, garam masala etc. A quick meal that the kids will love to eat. Serve with yoghurt but consider some fresh coriander chutney as an additional garnish.
Favourite Mince Recipes is a cracker of a little book offering a raft of easy and economic international dishes. And plenty for those who prefer fish to meat. Lots of casual fare but a good selection of recipes for entertaining.
Favourite Mince Recipes
Author: Lee Blaylock
Published by: Apple Press
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018