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?