Saturday, 5 June 2010

Bulk handling

CJBS wanted cottage pie. Mainly because I put the idea into his head. £1.32 doesn't get you much beef mince, even the fatty cheap stuff. I bought the expensive lean mince, so my money got me about 8oz - 200g. That's for the entire week, remember, and wasn't even enough for one cottage pie of any size. But wartime rationing involved a lot of bulking out and the tricks become second nature after a while.

The cottage pie got three forms of bulking. First, cook off the mince with some onion until it has browned. Soak up the fat with gravy browning and dilute with stock until there's a useful amount of gravy. To that, add porridge oats, about the same amount as the beef. This swells up with the gravy and has the same texture as the mince - instant doubling of the meat content.

Next, finely dice some mushrooms - about the same amount as of the original mince. Add that and it'll take on the gravy flavour, whilst the texture won't be all that different either. So now the mince has been tripled, and, as a by-product, has got much heathier, with the oats removing much of the cholesterol.

Finally, add a chopped onion, a chopped carrot and a chopped parsnip. These don't turn into anything else, but they add bulk and taste very nice in and of themselves (except the parsnip, obviously). From 8oz of mince to start with, there's now 2lbs or so of the stuff. It'll reduce down somewhat, so perhaps a pound will be left. Mashed potato on top, into the oven and enough food to last three days for one person is ready. I did exactly the same with my vegetarian soya mince, to the same results.

The only flaw is that this all needs slow cooking, both on the stove and in the oven, and much too much stirring as bloody usual. Doesn't half save money, mind. Also, whilst CJBS doesn't mind having the same thing three days running, I start to find it dull. So some vegetable side dishes are recommended.

Enough of my boasting: I'm off to make a cauliflower cheese from a week's worth of cheese ration. Now that will need some bulking...

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