Savoury Mince was Mr PK's special request for dinner this week. I'm not sure how many people would actually request mince, but since I do the cooking, and we usually eat what I choose (democracy is alive and well in this marriage....) it would be a bit churlish to refuse.
To be frank mince was a bit of a nightmare dish of my childhood, and to this day one of my sisters pretty much refuses to eat it. Mum never really got the hang of browning the meat, so mince in gravy was gray and pallid, despite her valiant attempts to bronze it up with soya sauce, or God forbid, Vegemite.
But I am a girl who likes a challenge, so this is my first attempt at savoury mince, and it is really rather fabulously good actually ..........yep, modest as well as democratic.
P.S If you are going to make this you must first swear on your wooden spoon to BROWN your meat, if not for you, then think of your kids.
(enough for two with plenty for lunch the next day)
1 onion, peeled and chopped
Splash of oil
Sprinkle sea salt
500 gr good topside mince
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 1/2 cups beef stock
Splash of worster sauce
1 tbsp tomato sauce (I used homemade but store brought would be fine, or use tomato paste)
Lots of ground black pepper
1/2 cup frozen peas
Couple of dried porcini mushrooms if you have them
2 eggs - optional, but rather lovely
Splash of vinegar
Bread for toasting
In a medium frying pan put your oil and over med-low heat fry your onions until soft and translucent. Now crank the heat up to high. I mean UP, this is where you need to brown your mince, and nothing but hot will get a nice colour to the meat. Be bold. Fry stirring and breaking up the meat for about 10 minutes, until any liquid that comes out had evaporated, and you can smell rich meat, not that ickky smell you get from stewing beef.........
While this is happening pour 1/4 cup of boiling water over the porcini and leave to soak.
Now turn the heat down to med low again, and add your garlic & carrot to the pan, stirring for another minute. Pour in the beef stock, then the worster sauce and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the porcini soaking liquid, and the porcini, which I chop up roughly.
Simmer for about 15 minutes, until the carrot is soft, the mince cooked and there is about 1 cup of liquid left in the pan. If it looks dry add a little more stock. Thicken by stirring in a slurry made with the cornflour into which you have mixed 1/4 cup of cold water. Add it gradually, stirring until you have reached a thickness you are happy with.
Spoon onto your toasted bread and top with a poached egg. The egg isn't essential, but it is quite delish when the yolk breaks and dribbles all over the mince, mmmmm
To poach an egg
You may already do this quite happily, in which case please read on. If poaching makes you a little nervous, fear not, just follow these instructions (I eat an egg most days for breakfast, often poached, if I can do it pre coffee, you can do it anytime......)
Have a pan of water just below simmering (with a few bubbles ALMOST breaking the surface) , into which add a splash of vinegar, any sort will do.
Take a spoon and stir it around a couple of time, like you are stirring your tea. This creates a whirlpool effect, break a fresh egg into a cup, then pour it gently into the middle of the whirlpool. The action of the water stops the egg spreading into a mess.
Pop the lid on and wait for 3-4 minutes, the white will be set, the yolk wobbly.
Use a slotted spoon to lift the egg onto a piece of folded paper towel to drain.
Viola, perfect poached egg.
The porcini may sound a bit odd, but in effect it is my version of Mum's infamous Vegemite. Mushroom is a very savoury flavour, which I think is essential in this. If you don't have porcini, I would add a splash of soya sauce, again a very savoury taste.
I personally don't like much tomato flavour, I think it turns the mince into something more similar to bolognaise. I want rich brown gravy instead , not the most attractive dish perhaps, but so good. Perfect for supper, but also popping up once again on cafe menus for brunch.
I may even convert my sister.........