Versatile and economical, minced pork, lamb and beef can form the basis of many delicious supper dishes.
Lamb with aubergines
3 aubergines, their ends sliced off and discarded, and each aubergine sliced evenly about ½ cm thick
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, each skinned, halved and diced neatly, about little fingernail in size
2lb/900g minced lamb
1 fat clove of garlic, skinned and diced finely
2 tablespoons tomato purée
1 pint/568ml stock, or half and half, stock and red wine
1 teaspoon salt, about 20 grinds of black pepper, ½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes – optional
3oz/75g grated Parmesan
Prepare the aubergines, by brushing them on each side with olive oil. Put the slices, overlapping, on a wide baking tray, and roast them in the moderate heat at the same time as the minced lamb cooks – see the method further on.
Heat the olive oil and fry the diced onions, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. When the onions are soft and transparent, scoop them into a warmed bowl, leaving behind as much oil as possible. Raise the heat beneath the casserole and fry the minced lamb, turning it over so that it browns all over. Add the diced garlic, and replace the fried onions with the minced lamb. Stir in the tomato purée, stock (and red wine if you are including it) salt, pepper and chilli. Cover the casserole with its lid and cook in a moderate heat, 350F/180C/Gas Mark 4 for 1 hour. Cool. Take the aubergine slices from the oven, and cool them.
In a wide ovenproof dish, layer the roasted aubergine slices with the minced lamb, ending with a layer of meat. Scatter the grated Parmesan evenly over the surface, and reheat at a moderate temperature, same as for the cooking, for 40-45 minutes. The Parmesan should form a molten crust and the minced lamb be sizzling fairly fiercely around the edges. If not, give the dish a further 10 minutes in the oven. A mixed leaf salad and boiled Basmati rice are, for me, the perfect accompaniments for this dish.
Minced beef stuffed crepes
For the crepes
4oz/113g plain flour sieved
2 large eggs
½ pint/284ml milk, whole fat milk gives a better result with crepes than skimmed
1 teaspoon salt, about 15 grinds of black pepper
For the filling
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
2lb/900g lean minced beef
2 onions, each skinned, halved and diced finely
3 carrots, each topped and tailed and peeled, and diced finger nail size
2 sticks celery, each peeled with a potato peeler to get rid of the stringy bits, then sliced finely
2 just rounded teaspoons flour
1 pint/568ml beef or vegetable stock
½ pint/284ml red wine
1 level teaspoon dried chilli flakes – just leave this out if you don’t like chilli
1 teaspoon redcurrant jelly
1 tablespoon Worcester sauce
1 teaspoon salt, about 15 grinds of black pepper
Start by making the crepes – sieve the flour into a mixing jug and make a hollow in the middle. Break the 2 eggs into the hollow, and, using a whisk, gradually whisk the milk into the eggs and the milk and eggs into the flour, mixing well until all the milk is incorporated and you have a smooth batter.
Beat in the salt and black pepper, and leave the batter to stand for half an hour before making up into 12 crepes. To do this, melt a small amount – about ½ oz/14g butter in a non-stick crepe pan over fairly high heat.
Pour in just enough batter to coat the base of the pan with a thin, even film.
Cook, then tuck your thumbs under the crepe and flip it over to cook on the other side. Slip each cooked crepe onto a plastic tray to cool.
To make the mince filling, heat the olive oil in a wide sauté pan.
Brown the mince thoroughly, then scoop it into a warm dish. If necessary, add more olive oil to the pan and fry the diced onions and carrots, and the sliced celery, stirring occasionally, for 7-10 minutes.
Then replace the browned mince in the pan, add the flour, mix well and cook for a minute before adding the stock and red wine, stirring all the time.
Stir in the redcurrant jelly, Worcester sauce, salt and black pepper and chilli if using.
Stir until the mixture gently simmers. Half cover the pan with its lid, lower the heat beneath the pan and simmer gently for 35-40 minutes. The liquid should have reduced almost completely. Take the pan off the heat and cool.
When cold, divide the meat mixture evenly between each crepe, rolling up the pancakes to form fat rolls, and put them into a wide, shallow ovenproof dish.
Either re-heat by covering the filled crepes with foil and putting the dish into a moderate heat, 350F/180C/Gas Mark 4 for 40-45 minutes, or if you like, mix together:
½ pint/284ml double cream and
4oz/113g grated Parmesan cheese
Spoon the above over the filled crepes – it won’t submerge them, but forms a good coating as you bake them without the foil covering, but at the same temperature and for the same time.
Minced pork patties with thyme, garlic and lemon
These are so good, and I like to serve them with cauliflower in a white sauce containing a grating of lemon rind, and with baked jacket potatoes.
2lb/900g minced belly pork
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, each skinned, halved and finely diced
2 sprigs of thyme about 4in/10cm long, tiny leaves stripped from the stalks
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
grated rind of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon salt, about 20 grinds of black pepper
3 tablespoons flour, sieved onto a plate
2 tablespoons olive oil for frying
In a bowl mix together all the ingredients for the minced pork patties APART from the flour.
Mix very well. Then form the mixture into small balls, even in size, and dip each in the sieved flour on the plate, flattening each with the palm of your hand.
Put the flat patties onto a baking parchment-lined tray.
To cook, heat the olive oil in a wide sauté pan on a fairly high heat.
Put as many patties in the pan as can fit comfortably, and once in the pan, leave alone for 1 minute before carefully turning them over to cook on their other side for about 1½ minutes. Carefully lift them onto a warm plate as you cook the remainder.