Monday, 15 October 2007

Mince, mince, mince, mince, mince, mince, mince, mince...

... wonderful mince. </SPAM song>

I had to clean out the old fridge to get the new fridge in place. In so doing, I found a few surprises up the back of the freezer. I had some very old stuff that had to be thrown out; and I also discovered that I have so much mince in the freezer that it's ridiculous. Apparently I regularly buy a kilo when it's on special, freeze a portion, and then forget about it.

Things I threw out:
  • 3 Boost smoothie bars that did not survive their time in the esky.
  • A weight watchers chocolate ice cream cup. (Is it just me, or do these taste weirdly salty?)
  • Some very old fish fingers.
  • A single serve of a rabbit and bean casserole that had been in the freezer since last winter. (That's 2006, not the winter just gone.)
  • And, sadly, a Poachers' Pantry smoked chicken breast. It may have been OK, but it dated to 2005. Oops.
And we're eating more mince this week.

Recipe 1: Pumpkin and potato kibbeh-topped mince
Potato layer:
750g mixed potato
and pumpkin
1 medium onion, grated
1 & 1/2 cups fine burghul

2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped

1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

Mince Layer:
500 g beef mince

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 tsp allspice
2 medium onions, sliced thinly

1 tsp olive oil


1/4 cup pine nuts

2 tablespoons olive oil

Cook potato and pumpkin for mashing, turn into a bowl and mash. Soak the burghul in cold water for 15 minutes, then drain in a sieve. Press it down with a spoon to squeeze more water out. Add to the mash, along with the cinnamon, mint, parsley, salt, pepper and onion, and mix well.

For the mince, fry the onion in the oil until softened, but not brown. Add the mince, and stir until browned. Mix in the pomegranate molasses and the allspice.

Turn the mince mixture into a large square cake tin (25cm square) or a casserole dish. Top evenly with the potato mix; smooth surface and score surface into squares or diamonds with a knife. Sprinkle over pine nuts, pressing them down gently into the mixture. Drizzle with olive oil.

Bake at 200C until top is a nice golden brown. Eat hot or cold. Serves 6-8, so about half has gone into the freezer for another day. With luck I won't lose it until 2009...

Notes: Lamb would be more authentic than beef, really. Or maybe camel :-) This recipe is derived from The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook, by Tess Mallos - one of my oldest cookbooks; it came out in 1979 and I bought it shortly after. I'd worked that summer in a dodgy Lebanese restaurant and loved the cuisine. The original potato kibbeh recipe is vegetarian, with just onions below the kibbe mix. Traditionally kibbeh is made with lamb, so I guess this is named by analogy. (Kibbeh, Kibbe, Kibbi, there are many spellings.)

Recipe 2: Larb (Thai minced pork salad.)

2 stems lemon grass (white part only)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
500 g lean minced pork
1 teaspoon chilli paste
1/4 cup lime juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lime rind
1/3 cup fresh coriander leaves
1/4 cup small fresh mint leaves
1 small red onion, very finely sliced
1/3 cup roasted peanuts,
1/4 cup crisp fried garlic

Salad: lettuce, tomato, cucumber etc

Fry the pork, lemon grass and chilli in the sesame oil until throughly cooked, around 8 minutes. Taste for chilli, add extra if desired. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, except the salad. Serve on top of a plate of roughly torn lettuce leaves, surrounded by tomato wedges and cucumber slices and other salad veg as desired.

Notes: I used shallots instead of garlic as that's what was in the cupboard. These are available in jars from Asian grocers. A jar of chopped lemongrass is handy to have, and sambal oelek is a good all-purpose chilli paste that I always have on hand. The meat should not be hot: serve it warm or cold as you prefer.

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