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Browning and cooking mince for sauce and other dishes

Master the art of browning mince meat - for it is a life skill.

There’s an infinite variety of deliciously good mince meals. Essentially we can separate them into two types; ‘shaped’ mince dishes like meatballs, rissoles, burgers and meatloaf, and sauce based mince dishes like bolognaise, lasagne, tacos and savoury mince.

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Follow the tips below and you’ll have these mince dishes mastered in no time.

Making ‘shaped’ mince dishes

  • Use a little water or a mixture of milk and bread to keep them moist – These also help bind the mixture together. Mould the mixture with wet hands. This makes it a less sticky process and it’s an easier way to shape it.
  • Use a light touch and don’t make them too compacted – Aim for a loosely formed shape that holds together but is not too compressed.

For dish specific hints, tips and recipes click on the related articles listed to the right.

Cooking mince for a sauce or savoury mince dish

All of these dishes have one step in common, the recipes call for the mince to be browned. Browning mince is essential to bring our flavour and colour.

Hints for browning mince

  • Preheat the pan or wok to hot before you start to cook.
  • Cook the mince in a couple of batches of about 250g. Avoid overcrowding the pan or the mince will stew.
  • Remove mince from pan and set aside once browned.
  • Reheat the pan to hot between browning batches.
  • Crumble the mince into the pan or wok. Add it from the outside of the wok to the centre where it will be hottest.
  • As the mince cooks, break it up with a fork or spatula. Let this first side of the mince brown lightly before using a fork or spatula to break up the larger pieces.
  • Cook the mince until any liquid has evaporated, the mince can now begin to brown.
  • Using a moderately high heat will also help any water evaporate. Keep a check on it, as it will begin to cook fairly quickly at this stage.
  • Keep it moving so that it browns evenly but does not dry out.
  • Add seasonings (herbs and spices), or tomato or stir-fry sauces
  • Return mince to pan only when specified in the recipe to cook or simmer.

Essential tip for browning mince

If it begins to stew and water gathers in the bottom of the pan the mince will taste like it has been boiled. Tilt the pan and strain away the liquid.

Butchers tips – storing mince matters

  • Don’t store fresh mince any longer than necessary.
  • It’s best used within 1 to 2 days.
  • Freeze mince you don’t intend to use, it can be frozen for 2- 3 months.
  • Rather than freezing loose mince in roundish shape lay it out flat to freeze. This is important as it allows the mince to freeze and thaw evenly.
  • Thaw frozen mince in the fridge. Only thaw mince in the microwave if you’re cooking it immediately.