social spark Aisling Beatha: Spicy Mince with Rice and Spinach

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Monday, February 28, 2011

Spicy Mince with Rice and Spinach

I have this recipe listed on Recipe Zaar, and you can get an easily printed version there. I shall be going really really basic with these instructions, please don't be offended, the idea is that my eldest son, will be able to follow them without phoning home to ask "what do I do next?" when he starts cooking for himself.


This recipe is on a sheet cut out from a magazine years ago. I think it's probably family circle, but not certain. Made it quite a lot for a while, but then stopped.

4 servings
time to make 1 hour
10 min prep
4 tablespoons oil (I use the cheap olive oil but whatever you have on hand will do) (I don't measure it just put in a decent size glug, you can add more later if you need to )Actually, these days I don't use copious amounts of oil and just use spray oil instead.  You can either buy the spray oil in the supermarket OR buy a refillable bottle.
1 large onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed (I use the lazy garlic in a jar, 3 tsp)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/4 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/4 teaspoons garam masala
800g pack minced (ground) beef (You can buy the cheap stuff and treat as shown in the instructions below, which makes it almost as lean as the most expensive mince at much lower price) Or buy the extra lean when it is on offer.
19 fluid ounces beef stock
12 ounces basmati rice
6 ounces spinach, roughly shredded
4 ounces sultanas (I leave these out by preference, yucky horrible shrivelled things)
2 ounces whole almonds (I can't remember the last time I put these in, only use them if you are really trying to impress)


1. Fry the beef mince in a non stick pan.

2. Fry until the mince is all browned.

3. Put a sieve over a glass bowl or the sink and carefully spoon the mince into your sieve.

4. Leave as much of the fat in your pan as you can, you do not want to block the drains if you are doing this over the sink. You can either pour the fat left in the pan into a jar for disposal, or leave to cool, where it will set and you can scoop it out into the bin. Here you can see just how much fat was left from 800g of mince, but when you add the next step it becomes some of the leanest mince you can use.

5. Take a kettle full of boiling water and pour over the mince in the sieve. This will rinse off all remaining fat and ensure it gets far enough down the drains that it doesn't block up. If you are concerned about the fat and the drains, spooning into the sieve over a bowl is better, but you will still need to pour the boiling water over the mince in the sieve, and this should be OK over the sink.

By frying, draining and rinsing in this way you get a really low fat meat, for such a low price. I can buy a big pack of the cheap mince for less than half what I buy a normal pack of the leanest mince. So, even if I end up with the same weight of meat as the lean pack after I've drained it, I still have paid only half the price.

6. Meanwhile slice the onion and prepare the other ingredients.



7. Heat the oil in a large saucepan (you need a big pan because of the spinach later)

add the onion and fry for 3- 4 minutes until softened.

8. Add the garlic and spices

and fry for another 3 minutes. If any of this starts to burn and stick, add a little more oil.

9. Add the minced beef back into the pan

and thoroughly stir to coat.

10. Add the beef stock and bring to the boil.

11. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes until all the meat is tender.


12. MEANWHILE if you are using ordinary rice, cook the rice until tender. If you are cheating and using microwave in the bag rice, get it out of the cupboard, nothing worse than finding out in half an hours time that you haven't got a packet left and could have cooked some proper rice in the meantime. Microwave in the bag rice might not seem economical for a student, and I agree, that at supermarket prices it is not, with most supermarkets ranging from £1.25 to £1.50 or more for enough for 2 people. We don't buy ours at the main supermarket, we buy it in a discount store and pay just £0.49 per bag. Using 2 bags for this recipe, which serves 4.

13. While the meat mixture is simmering away you will need to trim your spinach leaves. This is usually done in front of the tv, although make sure you have set a timer so you don't let your pan burn dry.

Take each leaf and simply pull away the stalk as far as you can, toss that aside and keep the main part of the leaf. This can be avoided by buying baby leaf spinach although this is more expensive.
You could also use either tinned or frozen spinach, rinsing or defrosting before use. The meal won't look quite as nice but I think it tastes even better.

14. Roughly shred the spinach. I have found the best way to do this is to take the bowl you put the leaves into as you trimmed them and take a pair of scissors to the bowl, just cutting through the leaves as many times as you need to.

15. If using microwave rice, don't even bother to microwave, simply empty into the pan about 5 minutes before you expect to serve, stir in and leave to heat through.

If using cooked rice, you can leave this until right at the end.

16. Tip the bowl of spinach into the pan.

It will FILL the pan.

Don't panic, it wilts down very quickly.

17. Keep the heat under the pan and gently stir in the spinach until it is done to the consistency you prefer, you can keep the leaves looking quite fresh or wilt them down completely.

18. DONE

19. Serve with naan breads, or as shown here, pitta breads, cheaper and not so filling, leaves more room for the lovely mixture.

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