Cooking with attitude: Take a butcher's at mince

The Nosh Brothers
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Indy Lifestyle Online
If you nervous about buying minced beef for your burger or bolognaise sauce and have despaired at the government bans on all things tasty, help is at hand

We, The Nosh Brothers, have checked out the alternatives to beef and worked out that in the mince department, life is not over yet. There is still a choice of pork, lamb and turkey mince (though it's probably too soon for you to stomach more turkey yet). Of the three, check out pork mince for quick, simple food .

Easily available from supermarket and local butcher alike, pork mince is a most versatile product - you can use it in oriental cooking with great effect, particularly mixed with prawns.

After all the seasonal feasting, a lot of people are trying to get back to the weight they were before the December madness started, so the good news is that prime-quality pork mince - that is lean-cut - is low in fat. Minced pork also has the benefit of being able to be dry-fried, although we still recommend using olive oil for flavour, especially for Mediterranean dishes

Pork gives a lightness to meatballs in Italian-style sauce which nevertheless delivers a full punch of flavour - we have reproduced a simple pasta recipe here from our current book, Winter Nosh.

Spaghetti with pork meatballs

Allow 3oz dry spaghetti per person (cook in well-salted water on a rolling boil until "al dente").

Meatballs

13/4lb lean pork mince

1 Spanish onion, chopped finely

1 small egg, beaten (to bind)

1 tsp dried oregano

3 peeled cloves garlic, crushed

4 tbsp finely grated parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

2 tbsp olive oil (to saute in)

Sauce

2 glasses white wine

2 pts tomato & basil sauce

1 tsp dry oregano

1 clove

1 oz unsalted butter

To serve: shaved parmesan/fresh ground black pepper

Method

Combine meatball ingredients (except oil) and shape into small walnut- sized balls. Chill for 1hr to help keep their shape. Next, heat olive oil in a high-sided casserole dish on a hot flame to seal and very lightly brown each meatball. (Take care not to overdo the sealing process, or the meatballs will dry out.) Then, deglaze pan with wine, bubble for a minute, then add the tomato sauce, clove and oregano. Bring to the boil, then replace lid and simmer the meatballs for 30 mins. Finally, add a small lump of butter to stir through, to give the sauce a shine. Toss the sauce through the pasta. It should not be runny, but cling to the strands. Serve with more meatballs and sauce on top, fresh ground black pepper and shaved parmesan.

`Winter Nosh' is transmitted on Carlton Food Network Thur, Fri & Saturdays. The book of the series,

`Winter Nosh' (HarperCollins) is available from all good bookshops

madsods@aol.com

This week's highlights on CFN:

Food for Thought (today 3pm) Sarah Greene hosts the show in which a panel of experts answer questions from a studio audience. This week, airline food.

A Taste of Africa (Tues 1.30pm) Dorinda Hafner samples some of Egypt's traditional dishes. A Nubian wedding is prepared in the shadow of the pyramids.

Grow Your Greens (Fri 12.30pm) Champion leek grower David Conroy shows Sophie Grigson around his Northumbrian garden, Rosemary Titterington demonstrates the art of garlic cultivation and the Robinson sisters from Preston explain how to make it big in onion growing.

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