OK, so I made the fatal mistake of asking the gang on Zero Carb UK Facebook group to hit me with their favourite ways to prepare and eat minced beef. Oh boy, did they respond and then some!
So, here is a bit of a messy throw-together of tips, recipes and cooking methods for the wonderful staple of minced beef. The type of mince used here is down to personal preference. I tend to favour the fattier end of the market and use 80/20 mince (20% fat) but others may prefer leaner mince. Mince is considered lean if it has 7% or less fat. The percentage is clearly shown on packaging labels. You can ask your butcher about the fat content when buying it loose by weight.
Here is the mince I typically eat most days:
Some Like It Hot!
Using curry spices to liven things up a bit seems to be quite popular with ZCUK members. Adding spices such as cumin, chilli powder, turmeric and a dash of garlic granules ( not strictly zc) then add either cream cheese, double cream or Greek yoghurt to stir through at the end. Full fat Greek yoghurt can be used in cooking or to make a dipping sauce, but it is still not optimal. We wouldn’t advise you eat a whole tub of it because of the carb count in the form of lactose.
Cooking wise, you can choose to fry off your beef mince in a frying pan and add in your chosen spices to give it a spicy edge, or you can be lazy like me and just throw the lot into a slow cooker on low and leave it all day or overnight to cook through and infuse the spices throughout the meat.
Mixing Mince With Other Meats
Being quite a versatile meat, beef mince is great when mixed with other meats or offal to make a meal. One member mixes beef mince with bacon (streaky is best for this), chicken hearts, lambs liver, lamb or ox kidneys. This would produce a really flavourful plate with different textures to keep it interesting! Great for offal lovers.
You can also get ready-mixed bags of beef and pork mince from the supermarket freezer section. One ZCUK member likes to fry this off in a frying pan until the meat goes really crispy. Top it off with some crispy bacon, sour cream and grated cheese. It is a really delicious way to eat mince, especially if you fancy a change.
Minced beef and bacon are a winning combination when put together. Another quick and tasty way to whip up a meal is to chop up some streaky bacon and mix this into your mince before stir frying. The mince gets nicely flavoured with the bacon fat and who can resist anything that contains bacon? Again, you can add whatever seasonings you like to this, so if you have a favourite one – go ahead! Most like a bit of salt and black pepper at the very least.
Although making your own beef burgers does deserve it’s own section, many ZC people blend liver with minced beef to give a more interesting texture to their burgers. Adding in liver also helps to bind the meat together so it holds together better when cooking. Some love liver, some hate it. Mixing in liver with beef mince is a great way to eat your liver up and disguise the taste if you are not that enamoured with the flavour.
Meatballs are another great use for mixing beef mince with different meats. You want the textured of your meatballs to be a lot firmer so that they hold together while cooking and don’t crumble up into little pieces. You can mix whatever minced meat you like to your recipe. This could be minced chicken, pork, lamb or turkey etc.
A favourite recipe with a group member is to mix 1 lb beef mince with half a pound of minced pork and a little salt and pepper.
Again, you can fry your meatballs off in a frying pan with some lard, tallow or butter, or you can space them out on a baking tray and bake them off in the oven. If you are lazy (like me) you can cook them in the slow cooker overnight on a low setting with a bit of beef stock. Great for an instant breakfast!
All Burgers Great and Small
Ah, the classic British beef burger! When it’s done right, a decent burger can be the food of the Gods. But done wrong…… sigh.
There are countless variations when it comes to making your own beef burgers. The sky is the limit with what you can add to them in the way of herbs and spices. You can also stuff them or top them with your favourite cheese.
Above is a picture from Debby of ZCUK showing her delicious stuffed mozzarella burgers (thanks Debby!).
You can also shape your burgers into little boats and then fill up the hollow with all sorts of delicious things. Just like my beer can burgers as seen below.
If you reinforce the walls of your burger with rashers of streaky bacon, you could fill the middle with a cracked egg, different types of cheese and slices of salami – whatever you fancy!
Cheeseburgers stacked with fried eggs is another amazing way to serve up beef mince without it becoming boring. Another ZCUK member likes to spread pate on top of her burgers. Others like to top their burgers with some grated cheese and chopped crispy bacon or pepperoni slices.
Making your own burgers can be as simple as squishing beef mince by hand into burger shapes and cooking them. Some prefer blitzing 80/20 beef mince in a blender to make a smooth meat paste. This can then be formed into burgers with a meat press. Doing this makes them more closely resemble McDonald’s burgers and the thinner you make them the quicker they will cook. Again, you can add in salt and pepper or whatever seasonings you prefer.
Above is the burger press I have at home. This makes quick work of pressing burgers and helps me to produce burgers that are more evenly shaped and the same thickness each time.
Meatza Meatza Meatza!
So good we named it three times! Meatza is most certainly a favourite way to cook up beef mince with the group over at ZCUK. It is my personal favourite too. I have this most days and find that I miss eating it when I choose to eat other things, such as a bargain haul of pork loin steaks.
Here is a lovely looking meatza by Debby topped with mozzarella cheese and anchovies.
Meatza topped with chopped bacon and Cheddar cheese.
And my ‘lazy meatza’ where I am far too lazy to chop up the bacon, so just lay the whole rashers over the top of the mince.
Meatza is very much like a giant cheeseburger topped off with anything you like. I tend to think of it as a large pizza for carnivores where we use beef mince as the pizza base. Obviously, we miss out the tomato sauce topping as that isn’t ZC, but we make up for that by adding our favourite meat and cheese toppings. Mine is streaky bacon and Cheddar cheese. My son likes mozzarella cheese with pepperoni slices. You could throw on mini-meatballs, salami slices or chopped cooked chicken – whatever you fancy!
To make my meatza, I press 500 g of beef mince into a baking pan and sprinkle with plenty of salt and black pepper. I then top with streaky bacon and bake this off in my halogen, but you can cook it in a hot oven at 200C or the equivalent Gas setting until the beef is cooked through and the bacon is crispy. I then sprinkle the top with grated or sliced cheese, then toast off the top until the cheese is melted and bubbly. I like my cheese browned off and crispy.
There is no doubt that we can cook up very comforting dishes using beef mince for the winter. I love making beef and bacon soup in my slow cooker for example. It is great to come home to after a chilly walk with my dog on a winter’s morning.
My recipe for beef and bacon soup is the height of laziness. I simply throw about 500 g of beef mince into my big slow cooker, snip up a few rashers of streaky bacon with some scissors and throw those in, add some salt and pepper and a generous pinch of either chilli or curry powder, top with some beef stock and let it cook away. No muss no fuss!
When I am ready to eat it, I blend it all up in the slow cooker with a hand-blender until smooth. I will then scoop out a big mug full of soup to have with my breakfast and leave the rest for later in the slow cooker on low. I don’t think that soup is filling enough on it’s own, so will tend to have a big mug with a good side of bacon or a couple of pork chops.
Another fab recipe from the ZCUK group is to cook raw beef mince in the slow cooker with a bit of water and lots of Franks Hot Sauce (Chloe’s favourite). Mix this around well and cook for about 3 hours on high. Once cooked, break down the mince well to make it all soft and mushy. I think Chloe uses about 2 kg of beef mince with a whole bottle of Franks.
Slow cookers are a great tool for ZC people on a budget. They can transform the cheapest and toughest of meat cuts into something tender and delicious. They are so convenient too! You simply load them up, switch them on and then you can go and enjoy your day (or night).
Slow cookers are not only good for making meat soup or meat stews, they are also good at slow roasting whole cuts of meat. I especially love cooking beef spare ribs in the winter – there can be nothing better to wake up to than the smell of a beefy breakfast all ready and waiting for you to tuck into. It doesn’t even matter if you are not hungry first thing in the morning either as you can simply leave your beef on low or warm until you want to eat it.
Slow cookers are also good at cooking meatloaf using minced beef. You can also do a nice ‘fakeaway’ doner kebab by mixing minced beef with your favourite spices, then forming into a large sausage or cigar shape. Tightly wrap the meat mixture in some baking parchment and twist up the edges like a Christmas cracker. Wrap the meat parcel in some tin foil and bake on low in the slow cooker for a few hours. For the spice mix I would recommend the doner recipe that Rachel supplied for the blog.
I have also made a baked egg and beef casserole by mixing 1 kg beef mince with 6 eggs and 500 g of grated cheese. I baked this overnight on low. It comes out a bit like a firm and solid beef cake that you can slice up and eat hot or cold. It was OK, but if I were to make it again I would probably spice it up a bit with plenty of seasoning. It came out a bit bland with just salt and pepper added.
I want to hear your favourite beef mince recipes
Let me know in the comments if you have a favourite beef mince recipe to share. If it is ZC friendly, I will be happy to add it to this blog post so that everyone can enjoy it!
ZC on everyone!