Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Mincident - Part 2

There I was, my meat was on the counter, so to speak. If I was Darwin or Pradeep Jeganathan I'd have had my camera and laptop at the ready for the full online experience. Of course I'm not, so I didn't. It was just me, some frozen mince and a cupboard full of spices, as supplied by my Mother, Gawd bless her.

I've knocked up a mince curry before but not with the frozen stuff, so I figured this wouldn't be too much of a challenge. I did the usual; fried up some onions, garlic, chilli powder, mustard seed, curry leaves, curry powder and anything else that would make my whole house smell like a Sri Lankan restaurant. It's a good smell too, really reminds me of all sorts of good flavours.

Then I added in my frozen mince. You may well be wincing at this point, a kind of mince wince. If you happen to be called Vince please comment as I reckon we could be onto something. It said on the packet that this frozen mince should be cooked from frozen, I know that frozen prawns can be cooked without defrosting and I figured that mince is small and therefore easy to cook from the bag. My plan was simple; make the curry mix, add in the mince, brown it, then let it simmer for a while until cooked. Then throw it on some rice and proceed to fill my face with the feast. As for vegetables, pah! I laugh in the face of those healthy types who scoff down salad and cabbage and greenery like it's good for them or something.

I kept it on a high fire and browned it nicely, a phrase that just sounds dirty doesn't it? Then I threw in some water, a bit of soya sauce, just becauseI like it, and left it to simmer on a low heat. It smelt a bit strange. I put on the rice and went to do some drum practice. At regular intervals I checked it and tasted it, which is when I noticed the strange thing.

The sauce had a nice flavour to it but the meat itself had a weird and rather sickening aroma and taste, some might say a sort of raw flavour, even though it was nicely brown on the outside. I persisted, thinking that the flavour would disappear after some good simmering. I let it simmer for about 25 minutes, by this time the whole house had been permeated by this rather unpleasant smell. I continued with the sporadic tasting but it wasn't getting much better.

Now if there's one thing I've learnt in the business world it's that you have to know when to cut your losses. Sometimes you have to stop investing time and energy into something and move on. Draw a line underneath it, try to learn from the experience and move on.

So I did. I turned off the cooker, walked the 100 yards down to the end of my road and bought an Indian takeaway. Chicken vindaloo, Bombay potatoes and a naan, to go with the already cooked rice.

I let the mince cool down, then chucked it away. The smell lingered in the house for about a day, then wandered off down the street, probably looking for a home where it would feel a bit more welcome.

Since the "mincident" I've cooked the same thing with fresh mince and the endings have been happy and tasty. I'm perplexed about exactly what I did wrong though. Was it because I didn't brown it for long enough or was it because these bags of frozen mince are just crap, made from bollocks and tails and stuff?

9 comments:

Confab said...

i really hated the smell that would clog it self in the house for days when i used to cook in the UK...it's as if the aroma would make it a point to go stick it self on anything and everything! it's all well and good when ur inside...but when u start walking outside and ppl think u've just finished a 10 hour shift at the local indian take away, that's not cool...

on another note altogether, frozen mince is not cool

al juhara said...

with all the millions of gigabytes of text on the net, I never thought i would actually stop to read about minced meat being fried, so I must say you know how to take something ordinary and make it interesting.it sure was reader friendly :-)

Anonymous said...

Just for the record - the poor result was due to the fact you were boiling your mince rather than 'browning' it oil. A Friend.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Al Juhara - Thank you very much, sadly it's mostly because I do find this ordinary stuff interesting!

A Friend - Thanks too. If I can ask one more thing, should I have browned it for longer or in less oil, although I didn't use much oil to start with?

Darwin said...

If the mince is frozen then there is frozen water (i.e. ice) in it. When you attempt to fry it, the ice melts quicker than the meat fries, hence why you end up boiling it rather than frying it. Bottom line, don't use frozen mince (or any frozen meat for that matter, it should always be defrosted completely before cooking).

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Rhythmic, I could go on about how to cook the mince and the whole curry thing being of the 'blood' and a chef. Here goes: No problem with using frozen mince, although defrosting first would give a more consistent result. Mince will have a varying amount of fat and you need to judge whether the mince you bought had too much - you can always drain away at the early stage. Use ghee not oil. Personally, I recommend cooking the mince (or any meat) with the onions before adding my spices - these will be taken up really quickly after and will allow you to pour off any excess fat (unless you're building up your body weight or just don't care - or bought lean mince).
Make sure your mince is cooked well through in the oil/ghee BEFORE adding the water - as this will reduce the cooking temperature and start boiling rather that frying. Good luck - A Friend (believe me - I am)

PS. Not sure about the soy thing btw...

Bea said...

bags of frozen mince are often full of rubbish offcut bits, and sometimes soya in with the meat.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Thanks to all for the advice, particularly to anon. I will get to work, maybe even tonight.

S said...

Everyone's said what I've wanted to say; i.e. defrost it first. Mince is often fatty, hence the disgusting smell when you choose to boil.