I've been meaning to review this book for a while after receiving a copy from the publishers. I was very happy to get this book because mince forms a regular part of our weekly menu as it is reasonably cheap and easy to cook. I think I have however fallen into a rut of always cooking the same things with mince and usually only using beef e.g. bolognese, chilli, cottage pie etc. This book however covers all the commonly available types of meat with chapters on beef, pork & veal, lamb, chicken & turkey and fish. It's a good source of inspiration for different things to do with a packet of mince. Some of my older readers may recognise the title of this book as it was originally published around 30 years ago and this book is a revised version of a popular book. My Mum said she had a copy of this book during the 1980s and now this new edition is perfectly timed to inspire a new generation of cooks, especially during a time of financial restraint for many households.The obvious recipes are included in this book such as meatballs, pies and burgers but there are also some more inventive recipes such as the 'Curried Beef Surprise Cake' which is a cake of beef mince with a hidden filling of poached eggs, or the 'Hot Stuffed Avocados Gratineé' which are stuffed with pork and red peppers.
I've bookmarked a selection of recipes that I will be trying over the next few weeks, 'Old English Flan', 'Chinese Hedgehogs', 'Onion & Yoghurt Soda Buns Stuffed With Spiced Lamb' and 'Open Sesame on a Emerald Sauce'. This last recipe has a beautiful title although it doesn't give you any idea what the ingredients will be! In the authors own words the dish is described as follows:
" A roasted sesame encrusted roll is in fact delicately spiced chicken mixed with chickpeas. And the bright green sauce is simply a pureé of courgettes and parsley. "At some point I will probably end up working my way through most of the book. I've cooked one dish so I could write this review. I made the 'Ratatouille in a Pork Case' after picking up a packet of reduced price pork mince and wondering what I was actually going to do with it. I made a few modifications to the recipe, my boyfriend doesn't like aubergines so I used butternut squash instead and I also didn't have any tomatoes so I used extra tomato pureé with some water for the ratatouille. It might sound like an unsual concept, making a pie with pork mince instead of pastry and filling it with ratatouille but it works really well and my boyfriend has already asked me to make it again. The leftovers were also easy to reheat, I cooked the full quantity which was supposed to serve 6 but we were greedy and it served us twice, i.e. 4 portions.
Recipe adapated from Marvellous Meals With Mince
For the ratatouille filling
1/2 butternut squash, cubed
2 red peppers, roughly chopped
1 largely onion, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp tomato pureé
salt and pepper
For the pork case:
680g pork mince
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp tomato pureé
3 tsp wholegrain mustard
80g wholemeal flour
salt and pepper
butter and flour for greasing
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan or frying pan over a medium heat and cook the onion, peppers and butternut squash until tender. Add the tomato pureé and a few tablespoons of water, season with salt and pepper and cook for a few more minutes before removing from the heat.
Prehat the oven to 170C and lightly butter and flour a 21-23cm earthernware flan dish, I used my heart shaped Le Creuset baking dish which was just about the right size. Put all the pork case ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Use 2/3 of the meat mixture to line the dish and push it up the sides so the meat extends above the rim. Make sure there are no gaps in the pork case.
Spoon the ratatouille into the pork case.
I have only one criticism of this book and that is for the fish chapter. The recipes are largely for cod or haddock with no mention of the use of alternative white fish such as pollock which is more sustainable and also cheaper. I personally never buy cod or haddock unless I'm sure it has been sustainably sourced. The issue of fish sustainability has been quite well publicised but not everybody will be aware of it so I think it would have been good to indicate somewhere in the book that other fish would be suitable. But overall I think this is a good book as it has inspired me to get a bit more creative in the kitchen when faced with a packet of mince.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publishers and was under no obligation to write a positive review. All views and opinions expressed are my own.