Minced lamb shaped into koftas, ready for your next barbecue. What's missing? The harissa yoghurt sauce, the perfect complement for the koftas.
The power of mince
Never underestimate the power and potential of minced meat. It’s not by accident that the most popular, vilified and addictive fast food chain offers burgers rather than, say, stew.
Take a slab of chuck steak and look at it closely: it is not very appealing, it is tough as an old boot and fatty with it. But if you put it through a mincer, magic happens. It transcends into a burger (hamburger or patty, as it is variously known too) which can be on par with an average steak tastewise, some will say.
Kebabs have their own aficionados that include people who wouldn’t look twice at the scrap ends of lamb that go into the doner. Meatfloafs and meatballs are fondly compared to 'how grandma used to make’.
And finally, sausages: can anyone resist them? True, some people (count me in that number) won’t fall in love with over-cerealed English bangers but if they look overseas, they will be won over by salamis, Toulouse, bratwursts and loukanikos.
What is it about mince that's so appealing?
Either way, it must have been a genius who first came up with the idea of shredding some unsavoury raw meat and putting it back together to cook. Is it the tenderness of the minced product? Not sure, as salamis, saucisses and kabanos call for a strong set of teeth.
Is it the generous handfuls of salt that are usually thrown into the mince? Not salt alone, as some burger recipes tell you to only salt the patties when cooked. Is it because it’s cheap? Well – there’s cheap and there’s wagyu burgers.
What can you (not) do with mince!
Mince can be beef, pork, lamb, chicken and better-off-not-knowing. It is pressed and compacted into burgers and meatballs. It gets rudely squirted into gut casing for sausages. It may be nonchalantly thrown into a pan for patty melts or meticulously shredded by hand into a steak tartare.
It can be spicy, hellish hot, comforting, salty – or sweet, if we're mindful of whence mince pies came from. Mince makes a sauce, ragu, stuffing, filling or a roast. Mince, quite simply, rules.
So get yourself a pound of mince lamb or even better, put it through an old fashioned grinding machine yourself. Add an egg, or don't. Season copiously with herbs, or spices.
Salt and pepper, cumin and coriander, honey and tomato, Parmesan and anchovy, anything goes. Mix it, shape it, grill it or barbecue it and there it is. You don’t really even need my recipe, do you?