This is loosely based on a dish that was usually made once a week during my childhood. I guess most countries have their take on beef mince (ground beef). The Italians certainly have their bolognese. And yet I’ve never eaten bolognese whilst in Italy. Would never dream of it as there are so many other dishes to choose from. Anyway, the problem I had with this dish growing up was that the onions were never caramelised. So, I used to sit and assiduously pick out all of those whitish squares of, for me, undercooked and crunchy onion. Which would invariably lead to mumbling from the Patriarch to my right. Usually a variation-on-a-theme-of-starving-children-in-far-off-countries. My lunch and I’ll eat it how I want to!
Praties (sounds like pray-tees), if I knew how to spell the colloquialism meaning potatoes, is what I’m having with this. Just mashed with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a knob of butter – and a drizzle of single/light cream if there’s any left. This dish as I remember it was always really tasty, regardless of how plain the ingredients probably were. No garlic, nor spices allowed by the Muttering Patriarch. And the gravy was possibly granules. Still, I used to wolf mine – even though, by the time I picked out every single piece of onion, what was left was only lukewarm.
You know, I don’t think I’ve ever bothered to cook with mince this way before. Which surprises me. Admittedly, I’ve cooked with minced beef for chilli con carne. This time I can’t quite believe how easy this was to make. And, how warm, sweet and aromatic it tasted. Even the celery leaves (something I’ve never eaten before) complimented the gravy beautifully. Perfect for Spring equinox.
Beef Mince (Ground beef), with home-made gravy and mash
PREP: about 15 mins ~ COOKING TIME: up to 1 hour ~ READY IN: 1 hour +
- olive oil
- 300g (10.58 oz) x onions, peeled and chopped
- 1 x garlic clove, peeled and chopped or crushed/minced
- 1/4 x teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to personal taste
- rapeseed oil
- 250g (8.81 oz) x pack minced (ground) beef
- 100g (3.52 oz) x celery, washed and stalks chopped in half
- 200g (7.05 oz) x carrots, peeled and cut in half
- 1 x organic vegetable stock cube
- 1/2 x beef stock cube – optional
- 500ml (1.05 pt US Liq) x water
- 1 x dried bay leaf, ripped
- 1 x large fresh parsley sprig
- 2 – 4 x sprigs of fresh thyme (non woody stems only used)
- 200g (7.05 oz) x salad potatoes per person
- 1 x tablespoon olive oil
- 1 x tablespoon plain (AP) flour
- 1 x teaspoon set/clear honey, for glazing the carrots
- small handful of celery leaves per person, thoroughly washed – optional
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- Pour in a good glug of olive oil to a heavy-based pan and add the onions. Put on electric heat No 2 (out of 6) and stir through occasionally. For the first 10 minutes I add a lid. After about 20 minutes turn heat down if necessary and add the garlic. Try to cook the onions for as long as possible as their taste is so much sweeter. When the garlic is nicely golden add the cayenne pepper and take off heat.
- Put a large heavy-based saucepan on heat No 4 with a little rapeseed oil. When oil is hot, but not smoking, add the mince/ground beef and allow to settle. If heat is too high reduce to No 3. Brown the mince evenly, stirring through often to prevent burning. If there’s a lot of fat or juice then carefully mop that up with kitchen towels and discard. Add a little more oil if necessary. Keep stirring through until the mince starts to take on a golden hue. The meat will taste so much better for it. I cook the mince until the base of the saucepan starts to take on a golden colour. It’s the only way I can think of to describe it. When that begins to happen do stir through often to prevent burning. This will give your gravy much more taste.
- When mince is nicely browned pour in the water, add the stock cubes with the fresh herbs and bay leaf. Add the celery and carrots when they have been prepared. Up the heat to No 4 and bring to a boil. Lower heat to No 2 and allow to simmer, stirring through occasionally for about 30 minutes. If more gravy is needed then cover with a lid to avoid the stock from reducing. Instructions for a runny roux to help thicken the gravy at end of post. As it was fairly mild here I had the window open and didn’t use a lid. Because of that I didn’t need to thicken the gravy.
- After about 10 – 15 minutes remove the carrots and set aside.
- Meanwhile, prepare the potatoes and get them on a boil. When cooked drain and mash with whatever you prefer. Here, I’m just using extra virgin olive oil to keep the flavours light.
- If you need further instructions for creamy, mashed potatoes then click: Pork shoulder steaks with creamy mashed potatoes
- About 10 minutes before the end of cooking time put a heavy-based pan on heat No 4 with a drizzle of olive oil and the honey. Place the carrots in and allow to reheat, turning them over occasionally to get them evenly coated. Turn down heat if any sign of scorching appears.
- If you want to thicken the stock to a gravy like consistency then put a small heavy-based pan on heat No 1. Add the olive oil and flour and stir through. If any bubbling occurs take off heat and allow to cool. Put back on heat for a couple more minutes to ensure the flour is cooked out. Simply pour into the stock, without the celery and herbs, and stir until the gravy thickens slightly.
- About 4 or 5 minutes before serving this remove the celery and herbs and discard, add the celery leaves and allow enough time for them to wilt.
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