Minced meat (not to be confused with sweet “mincemeat” which we will review nearer to Christmas) is any meat that has been minced or ground with the use of a manual or electric grinder. Available in many different qualities depending on your taste, from ground inexpensive cuts to filet mignon, and in many different grades depending on the amount of fat ground into it. The less fat the leaner the ground meat is, logically speaking. Mincing meat is not only reserved for what we are used to seeing at the grocery store either. In fact, basically all types of meat can be ground, not just beef and pork. Chicken, turkey, lamb, veal and fish are all options that are available at most butchers or fish mongers.
An important factor to consider when buying ground meat of any kind is the amount of fat content. Why this is important is because during the cooking process the fat melts and the original size of what you’re cooking can shrink considerably. This is a bit of a catch twenty-two however, as the leaner the meat is the drier it is once it cooks through.
Below is a list of different grades of minced beef that are available on the market. The percentage indicates the amount of lean meat. Other types of meat such as poultry are relatively standard and lack the same options that beef provides. Special grinds can always be prepared by a butcher however.
- Ground Beef (the most common): 73-77%
- Ground Chuck: 78–84%
- Ground Round: 85–89%
- Ground Sirloin: 90–95%
It is important to cook any minced meat purchased at the grocery store properly and to keep it refrigerated until it’s needed to avoid bacteria. I highly recommend that if you are using any ground meat that will be served raw such as Steak Tartar or if you prefer your burger on the rare side, that you purchase your meat directly at the butcher the day you need it and have it ground by them. (Excluding poultry or pork which should always be fully cooked!)
Now that we’ve settled the basics for minced meat with regards to types, fat content and safety, let’s take a look at what to do with it!
Minced meats of all sorts are used all over the world for so many different things. Sausages are stuffed using minced meat, meat balls and meat sauce are immensely popular as are shepherd/cottage pie, meat loaf, chili, kabobs, stuffed vegetables, and the list goes on and on and on! In this series of blogs that revolves around minced meats of all different kinds, we will be exploring numerous dishes that use minced meat and that can be prepared in the Fornetto.
In the above image are some of the ingredients you’ll need to prepare the century-old dish created by Dr. Salisbury; the Salisbury Steak, similar to the hamburger steak. Mine varies greatly to his as I stuff mine with a mix of caramelised onions, mushrooms and bacon and serve them Stroganoff-style instead of with brown gravy and mashed potatoes on the side. Note that I will be using a burger-press here and if you don’t already have one, I suggest investing in one. Not only do they ensure that all the patties you’ll be making are even and compact (very important here) but they make life so simple. Don’t fret if you don’t have one however, this can all be done by hand as well.
Begin by caramelising your onion first as they take the longest. Be sure to be patient when it comes to caramelised onions! When they are done properly, over very low heat for a long period of time, roughly 45 minutes or longer, they should be caramel in colour and should be sweet to the taste. Do not rush them as they will burn and burnt onions are bitter and unpalatable. Sautée the mushrooms and bacon as well, allowing them to brown but not burn. The top row in the above picture are what you should be aiming for when preparing the stuffing.
Once the onions are caramelised and the bacon and mushrooms are sautéed, chop the mushrooms and bacon finely and mix them together with the onion to make the filling.
Now, let’s take a look at how to use a burger press.
Each of these Salisbury steaks will require two patties. Most burger presses are similar in size and will give you a patty that’s about 340gr (12 oz. or 3/4 pounds). For these stuffed Salisbury steaks you’ll want to use ground beef that is higher in fat content, such as ground beef or ground chuck. By doing so, the meat will shrink during cooking and will leave you with portions that one person can eat or that can be easily split in two to share. If you use a beef that is lower in fat content, it will shrink less and you’ll most likely end up with about 700gr (25 oz or 1.5 pounds) of stuffed meat which would be considered more than a single portion. The reason that these need to be made so large to begin with is because of the stuffing which we will see further down. Begin by lining the burger press with plastic wrap and weigh out balls of 340gr (12 oz.) that you’ll place in the centre of the press.
Place plastic wrap over the top of the patties and using your fingers, work the meat towards the walls of the press. You may be wondering why the use of plastic wrap (cling film) but you will see why as we move on.
Using the top of the press, push down as firmly as you can without the meat escaping through the sides. This will ensure that the meat is perfectly compacted. It’s important that the meat is compact and free from any holes to ensure that the filling doesn’t fall out while it’s cooking and that the patties don’t split.
Displayed above is what the meat should look like once pressed.
Once pressed, and this is where the plastic wrap comes in handy, simply lift them out of the press, no fuss no muss!
Place the stuffing in the middle of one of the patties leaving enough room around the sides to be able to seal it once the other patty is placed on top.
Place the second patty on top of the one with the mound of stuffing.
Using your fingers, carefully crimp the meat from the two patties together to seal them.
This is what you should end up with when the patties have been sealed together around the stuffing.
Bake the stuffed Salisbury steaks in a preheated 190C (375F) Fornetto for about an hour or until the size has reduced and the fat is rendered from the minced meat. If unsure that the meat is cooked properly, use a meat thermometer. The internal temperature should read 75C (170F), which should take about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes. This dish should be cooked until the meat is well done, similar to that of a meatloaf and because it’s served with a Stroganoff sauce, it is quite alright if the meat is well done. Bake your potatoes at the same time and during the last 30 minutes bake your carrots or any vegetable of your choice in a covered dish. In this image, I’m using the Fornetto baking dish, pie dish and garlic roaster. Naturally, all the Fornetto ceramics can be used for many more things than their names suggest, as you can see here. Click on the image to view the entire line of ceramics.
These are Parisian style potatoes that can be purchased in most supermarkets. If you can’t find them however, simply skin new potatoes and boil them until just tender. Remove them from the boiling water, allow to cool completely and then season them with extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika. Place them in an oven-safe dish and bake until golden and crispy.
Serve the stuffed Salisbury steaks with a Stroganoff sauce, potatoes (or egg noodles if you prefer), vegetables of your choice and sweet or brined pickles, a traditional accompaniment to Stroganoff. Click on the image for the recipe!
You’re in for a treat. Enjoy!