While looking after a couple of our smaller granddaughters, Glenise decided a bit of a treat was in order at dinnertime so whipped them up a one-pan mince dish.
It's one we used to serve our boys many years ago when they either deserved a treat or we couldn't be bothered with the "stay at the table until you have eaten all the vegetables on the plate", a term that perhaps some young ones today may be unfamiliar with.
Anyway, back then mince was a reasonable dish to cook up and we always had plenty of homemade spaghetti in the pantry, so it was easy to simply brown off the mince in a pan with a little garlic and onion, add some carrots, peas and a small jar of spaghetti and, voila, there was their treat. Something the boys devoured very quickly, thoroughly enjoyed, simply served with buttered soldiers (buttered toast fingers).
After Glenise mentioned the way the granddaughters thoroughly enjoyed the treat I thought it was probably time we reminisced a little and had the one-pan mince dish ourselves, so off to the supermarket I went, purchased the best (which I assumed was the most expensive) mince along with a couple tins of spaghetti (sadly we no longer have a glasshouse or make our own) and home I went.
Peeled and chopped an onion and some garlic, a couple of carrots, three potatoes, grabbed a pan and away I went. A little oil in the base of the pan, add the garlic, carrots, onions, potatoes, sauted them off a little without colour then added the mince and started to fry - but, oh, what's happening here? I suddenly had a pan with a centimetre of liquid in it.
It's fair to say I was more than lightly miffed at the amount of liquid that had come out of the mince.
Had I bought the cheap stuff which I often do if I am making a wet mince dish, not an issue.
With a wet dish you can par-cook then let set, remove the fat from the top and continue cooking, but with a one-pan dish I want a good mince, that wasn't full of moisture and certainly felt I paid the price to receive that. So please butchers, take a little care.
Back to the dish at hand - I continued cooking the mince until the moisture had evaporated which did leave the mince somewhat dry.
However, I again continued and ended up with a delicious dish that really did bring back memories of the good old days when the boys were small and one I will share with you today which is incredibly simple but delightfully tasty and does go well with some hot buttered soldiers.
ONE-PAN MINCE DISH (serves 4)
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
4 potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed and finely chopped
2 tins spaghetti (if you haven't got your own homemade)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 cup of peas
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Place a little oil in a heavy based pan and bring to temperature, adding the garlic, onions, carrots and potatoes and saut without browning for 2-3 minutes.
2. Add the mince and with a wooden spoon break the mince up and cook until a nice brown colour.
3. Now add the 2 tins of spaghetti and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
4. Mix well and cook out until the mince has been completely cooked.
5. Serve alongside hot buttered toast fingers.
Graham Hawkes operates Paddington Arms at the Queens Dr/Bainfield Rd roundabout.
The Southland Times