I have one pound of minced meat and it has to do us for two meals. There is loads of meat in this amount for 2 meals for 4 people (2 adults, 2 children). When meat is sold in a pound weight (454g) I know many families decide to lash it all into one meal and eat it all at once. Really, there is plenty of protein in the meat to stretch to two meals.
So today I’ve taken this one pound of minced meat divided it in two. The first meal I’ve made this afternoon and you’ll find the recipe below. The second will be on the blog in the next day or so.
I have to thank Conor Pope of the Irish Times who mentioned me in his Pricewatch column today. I have been overwhelmed by the messages of support and encouragement. As some of you may know I’ve been struggling a little in the past few weeks, but the article gave me a much-needed boost.
There have been a number of “top-secret” projects under way here in North County Dublin, and last Friday I had a very special photo shoot for one of them. I rarely get an opportunity to wear make-up (I thought I didn’t have any in fact), and it was very odd to be in front of the lens rather than behind it for a change. I promise, once I get the all clear, that I’ll be spilling the beans, pulses and lentils all over the shop!
Anyway to the recipe. You can see from the pictures that I’ve used a beef mince that is low in fat, there is normally enough fat in beef mince to cook it without additional oil. However this recipe is also suitable for turkey or chicken mince and in that case you will need to oil the frying pan before adding the meat. I get my minced meat in my local butcher shop because I like to see it made in front of me. That does make it slightly more expensive than that which I can buy in a plastic tray in the supermarket.
Make the most of the fresh vegetables you can get in season. This time of the year brassicas (cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower and sprouts) are thriving and are likely to be Irish in the shops. I also used some frozen sweetcorn and a couple of carrots. To keep costs down, I used some rice noodles that I picked up on a recent trip to an Asian Supermarket. This isn’t high cuisine, but I can guarantee you that it will take a maximum of 20 minutes to cook from start to finish. You won’t get a much better hearty, low-fat, meal or supper costing between 75c-€1 per portion.
Quick Fresh Noodles (Serves 4)
- 225g Minced Beef
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger (hint I use ginger & garlic paste in a jar)
- 2 medium carrots, peeled
- 2 handfuls of brussels sprouts, peeled
- 1 cupful of frozen sweetcorn
- 200g dried fine rice noodles
Take a large heavy bottomed frying pan or wok and heat it on a high heat (no oil). Once the pan is smoking, add the beef mince and flatten it down on the pan. Don’t stir it too much. The key here is to let the beef mince stick in chunks, and not turn into fine gritty pieces. Once the beef starts to turn a dark brown colour, turn it over in the pan. Toss the mince around until it is dark brown all over. Then remove from the frying pan and leave to drain on a piece of kitchen paper.
Chop the carrots into batons and cut the sprouts into quarters. Boil a kettle of water and put the rice noodles into a large, heatproof bowl. Pour the hot water over the noodles and set to one side.
Return the pan or wok to the heat and add the oil. Once it starts to heat through, spoon the minced garlic and ginger into the oil, be careful it will spit in the hot oil, and then the sprouts and carrots. Toss in the oil for about 3 minutes. Using a tongs, lift the soaked noodles from the hot water. Don’t worry about straining them as you’ll use the excess water for the rest of the cooking process in the frying pan. Add the noodles to the frying pan and then the sweetcorn. Cook for a further 5 minutes and then serve.
As with all my dishes, I’ve not seasoned this meal at any point. You can add salt and pepper to taste at this stage or perhaps a low-salt soy sauce (although this will add gluten to the dish). I’ve sprinkled some chillis on top of our noodles in a kamikaze fashion because it’s from the allotment and I had no idea how hot they were. Let’s just say my lips and tongue are still a bit numb, but in a good way!