Tag Archives: minced beef

Home made Beef Burgers – you’ll never go back

Tonight, Boy the Elder made Beef Burgers for dinner.  They were so lovely; the boys had chips and peas with them and I had a stir fry.  We like our burgers nice and thick and still a bit pink in the middle, so we only cooked them for a few minutes on each side.  There is no need to think of burgers as unhealthy.  If you use decent minced meat they’re a good protein fix and jolly tasty too.  And, of course, lamb mince would be just as nice.  For a variation on this recipe, click here.

Beef Burger: Boy the Elder cooked it, Boy the Younger photographed it



1 x frying pan
Kitchen paper

a little oil for frying
1 small onion – finely chopped
1 garlic clove – crushed
1lb / 480g minced beef – as good as you can afford
1 teaspoon of wholegrain mustard
1 tablespoon mixed herbs
1 egg – beaten

Heat the oil in the frying pan and cook the onions and garlic until translucent
Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and leave to drain on kitchen paper
Mix together the beef, mustard, herbs and egg, then add the onion and garlic
Mix well with your hands
Divide the meat mixture into four and shape into patties
EITHER – Re-heat the frying pan and fry the burgers for 5 minutes on each side
(or less if you like them rare)
OR – Put a tiny bit of oil on each burger and cook them under a medium grill for the same time
Serve immediately in a bun or on their own


Filed under Food, Storecupboard

Everyday Lasagne

We love lasagne and, like so much peasant cooking, you can adapt it very easily to incorporate what you have in the larder.  It is also a recipe you can make in advance, it freezes brilliantly and often tastes nicer the next day – make double and freeze half or have it again the next day.  And don’t forget – most of this is made from storecupboard ingredients

Here is a basic starting recipe.


1 x 8×10” ovenproof dish
1 x large saucepan
2 x small saucepans
2 x measuring jugs
1 x strainer
1 x grater

Ingredients for Meat Sauce (Ragu):
1 tblspn oil
½ oz/15g butter
1 medium onion – finely chopped
1 medium carrot – diced
1lb / 480g minced beef
2tblspns red wine or similar
¼ pint / 150ml strong beef stock
4oz / 120g tinned chopped tomatoes
1 really heaped tablspn tomato puree
1 tspn oregano

Ingredients for White Sauce (Besciamella):
2oz / 60g butter
1 very heaped tablspn plain flour
1 pint / 600ml milk
1 bayleaf
6 peppercorns
1 pinch nutmeg

6oz / 180g lasagne
3oz / 90g grated cheese or a hefty sprinkling of Parmesan

Pre-heat the oven to 200 / 6 / 400
Melt the oil and butter in the large pan
Add the onions and carrots and cook gently for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently
Add the mince and cook until browned
Add the wine and cook until almost all the liquid has evaporated
Stir in the stock, chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and oregano
Bring back to the boil, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes
Meanwhile make the sauce
Put the milk into a small saucepan
Put in the bayleaf, peppercorns and nutmeg and bring to the boil
Remove from the heat, cover and leave to cool for about 10 minutes
Melt the butter in a small pan until melted
Add the flour and stir briskly
Return to the heat and cook gently until thickened
Strain off the milk into a jug, discarding the peppercorns and bayleaf
Gradually add the milk to the butter and flour stirring briskly in a figure of eight motion until thickened
Put a layer of the ragu sauce on the bottom of the ovenproof dish
Cover with a single layer of lasagne sheets
Then another layer of ragu and then a thin layer of the white sauce and a sprinkling of the cheese
Repeat these layers remembering to finish with a layer of white sauce sprinkled with cheese
Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the top is browned and bubbling
Serve with salad or peas
Italians do not serve Lasagne with chips.


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Spaghetti anda meaty balls

I grew up in the 70s and 80s and, until I went away to school, virtually everything we ate came out of tins and packets – how we didn’t die from MSG poisoning is beyond me (she said, twitching gently).  Tinned meatballs are one of those guilty things, like beans with little sausages in, All Day Breakfasts and Alphabetti Spaghetti, but my view is that if  you eat sensibly most of the time, you can eat Spongebob Square Pants Spaghetti from time to time with a clear conscience.  The point is, that I didn’t know that you could actually make meatballs or steak and kidney puddings at home.

I remember a time after Sister the First had left home and was living in London, she came home and made proper Spaghetti Bolognese – with real spaghetti.  I genuinely thought she must be the most cosmopolitan person in the world and that I would be touched by association.

Home made meatballs are a wonderful thing, rich and textured and tasty.  It’s also a great dish for making in batches and freezing in portions.


1 x large bowl
1 x large frying pan
1 x cheese grater
Kitchen roll / paper towel

2oz / 60g bread – crusts cut off, soaked in milk & squeezed dry
1lb / 480g minced beef
1 tablespoon parsley – chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic – crushed
1oz / 30g grated cheese
1 pinch nutmeg
2 eggs – beaten
flour for coating
oil for frying

Put the bread, mince, parsley, lemon juice, cheese and nutmeg into a bowl.
Add the eggs and mix together thoroughly but keeping a light touch.
Carefully shape into balls about 1”/2.5cm diameter
Roll each one in flour
Put the oil into the frying pan to about ¼” / 1cm deep and put on a medium heat
Cook the meatballs in batches for about 4 minutes, turning occasionally until evenly browned
Remove from the pan and drain on the kitchen roll


1 x large saucepan with a lid
1 stick blender or liquidiser

1 x 14oz / 400g tin of peeled tomatoes
1 medium onion – chopped
2 cloves garlic – crushed
1 medium carrot – finely sliced
1 stick of celery – finely sliced
2 teaspoons tomato puree
1 teaspoon sugar
a couple of torn basil leaves

Pour the whole tin of tomatoes into the pan
Add all the other ingredients
Season as you like and bang a wooden spoon about a bit to break  up the tomatoes
Bring to the boil then cover and simmer for about half an hour or until the vegetables are soft
Put through the blender until smooth

Add the meatballs to the pan
Stir gently and simmer for 20 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through
Serve with spaghetti


Filed under Food, Recipes

Still Mincing: Rissoles

If you need your minced beef or lamb to go a little further, you can fall back on the good old British rissole.  They are delicious and are lighter than a burger.  My grandmother used to make small rissoles using the minced up remains of the Sunday joint, as a late supper dish and eaten on their own.  I like them with a green salad, spinach or dark green cabbage. 

If you’re using fresh mince, brown it in the smaller frying pan and drain off the fat before using.


1 x large mixing bowl
2 x small bowls for dipping and coating
1 x blender or mini chopper for making breadcrumbs
1 x large frying pan
1 x smaller frying pan if you’re using fresh mince

1 ½ lb / 720g potatoes – boiled and mashed
12oz / 360g minced beef or lamb
1 onion – finely chopped
2 tblspn fresh chopped parsley (mint, sage or chives also work well)
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
salt and pepper
2 tblspn plain flour
2 eggs – beaten
4oz / 120g fresh breadcrumbs
Oil for frying

Using the large bowl, thoroughly mix together the meat, potatoes, onions, Worcester sauce, herbs and seasoning
If you have time, let the mixture chill in the fridge for an hour as it makes the mixture easier to shape
Shape the mixture into eight patties
Dip each one in the flour, then the beaten egg and then the breadcrumbs
Heat a little oil to a medium heat in the large frying pan
Cook the rissoles, turning occasionally to make sure they are evenly browned and crisp
Drain on a bit of kitchen towel and serve

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Mincing: 1/4 pound Beef Burgers

With the lovely weather comes the urge for people everywhere to take to the outdoors, to sunbathe, to walk, to cook.  Men who don’t cook at any other time of the year march to the BBQ, spatula in hand ready to demonstrate their prowess with a couple of pounds of pork and beef.

A home made burger knocks spots of anything you can buy in the shops, although good butchers will sell pretty good ones.  The thing is you can customise them to your own taste, with herbs, spices, finely chopped onions, chillies, apples  – anything you like.  If you like burgers very rare, the home made option is much safer as you know how they are made and where the meat came from.

Tomorrow I’ll show you how to make Rissoles which make the meat stretch a lot further.


1 x bowl
1 x frying pan if you’re not BBQing

1lb / 480g minced beef
1 tspn paprika
2 tspn fresh chopped parsley or 1 tspn dried parsley
plenty of salt and pepper
A little oil for frying

Squish all the ingredients together in the bowl with your hands
Leave them in the fridge for an hour if you can to let the herbs settle in
Heat the oil in the frying pan
Divide the mixture into four and shape into nice patties
Cook in the hot oil, turning occasionally to ensure they are nicely browned on both sides

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A recipe for Shepherd’s or Cottage Pie

There are few people in the world who don’t like a nice Cottage or Shepherds’ Pie.  Except vegetarians of course, but even they can eat Quorn if they get the urge.  Incidentally, I apologise if this is stating the obvious, but a Shepherds’ Pie is made from minced lamb and Cottage Pie is made from minced beef.

The mantra of the Wartime Housewife is always “Eat less but eat better”.  Cheap mince is a horrid thing – full of gristle and fat with a nasty texture and I will always argue that it is better to eat a small amount of decent meat than to stuff yourself with water injected, intensively reared rubbish. There is also an argument that properly fed, slow produced meat fills you up more anyway, so you need less.

One can make a Cottage Pie go much further by loading it up with vegetables that can blend in quite discreetly, such as tinned chopped tomatoes, peas, carrots, chopped green beans, sweetcorn, chopped peppers, sliced mushrooms or even baked beans if you want a one-pot meal.  There fore, it can be made using storecupboard ingredients.  Hurrah!


1 x large ovenproof and hob-proof dish
1 x medium saucepan
1 x vegetable peeler
1 x potato masher
1 x chopping board and vegetable knife

1 large onion – chopped
a little oil for frying
1lb / 500g lean minced beef
¼  pint / 300ml good strong beef stock
1 tblspn mixed herbs
1 tspn paprika
1 dash Worcestershire Sauce or 1 tblspn Marmite/Bovril
1  tin chopped tomatoes
1 large carrot – thinly sliced or diced
4oz / 120g frozen peas
For the top
2 ½ lb / 1kg –ish potatoes for mashing – peeled and cut into smallish chunks
A knob of butter
A bit of grated cheese for the top if you fancy it

Pre-heat the oven to 180 / 350 / 4
Heat the oil in the large pan and fry the onion until soft and translucent
Add the mince and fry until browned
Add all the other ingredients (except the potatoes) and cook until the carrots are al dente
Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in the medium saucepan until soft enough to mash
Season to taste, add the butter and mash until soft and lump free
When the meat is cooked, pile the mash onto the top and rough it up with a fork
Sprinkle with the cheese if you wish
Bake in the oven for about half an hour or until the top is browning nicely
Serve with extra vegetables, baked beans or crispy salad


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