A fail-safe when you’re doing the weekly shop is to put a pack of beef mince into the trolley. You may not have decided what to make with it yet, but you can be sure you can think of something and mince is always quick and easy to cook.
Mince is actually a great basis for introducing the kids to some different cooking from other countries too, as your meal basis is something that they’re used to eating and enjoy already. So this week, forget about serving up the usual Cottage Pie with a mashed potato topping or Spaghetti Bolognese and try one of these ideas for spicing up mince instead.
What child doesn’t appreciate dinner on a stick?! That’s exactly what you can give them if you make some beef kofta. Kofta feature in a number of different cuisines including Indian, Iranian, Bosnian, Lebanese, Turkish and Greek. At the base of each recipe, a kofta is a meatball – a ball of minced or ground meat, that’s either fried or grilled. Kofta are standard fare in Greek cooking, and they’re usually cooked on skewers on the grill, and that’s one of the easiest ways to make them at home too. Traditionally, they’re eaten with pita breads or chips and served with a portion of tzatziki or yoghurt.
In this recipe, the mince is mixed with parsley, coriander and onion, as well as paprika, cumin, allspice and salt and pepper. Once well-combined, you can mould tablespoonfuls of the meat mixture onto a wooden skewer. You’ll end up with what looks like skinless sausages on a series of skewers. These are then grilled for about 8 minutes, turning half-way through to ensure cooking is even.
This particular recipe suggests serving with saffron yoghurt, but if you think the kids would rather try tzatziki, that’s also easy to make. Simply grate half a cucumber, crush a clove of garlic and stir together with 250g of Greek yoghurt. Add mint sauce, or chopped mint leaves, to taste, along with salt and pepper. This is something the kids could help make, too. Kofta is so mildly spiced, it’s worth trying with even the most resistant of children when it comes to trying new flavours.
Chilli con carne
Of course, we all know chilli con carne is a great fall-back meal and one that can usually be created from freezer and store-cupboard resources. But if you’ve got kids who prefer their meals without spiciness, you might not have tried them with it yet. The great thing about chilli con carne, though, is that you can make it as mild or as hot if you want, especially if you don’t use a premixed pack of spices.
Try this chilli con carne recipe that’s been designed with kids in mind. It even includes grated vegetables so you can sneak some extra goodness in there – that is likely to be undetectable. Of course, not every child is a fan of kidney beans, and these are pretty hard to disguise, so you may find these are filtered out and left on the side of the plate! However, don’t be deterred from putting them in; gradually their tastes will change and they might just end up eating them as it’s too much trouble to push them to one side. If your children aren’t that keen on rice, you could always serve the chilli with wraps and grated cheese at the table instead, so that everyone can assemble their meal at the table to their own taste.
You wouldn’t usually associate beef mince with making an Indian curry, but this Beef Keema recipe is quick and easy to make and does exactly that. Beef mince is cooked with onion, peas, spinach and spices to make a tasty curry that can be served with rice or naan breads, with a dollop of cooling yoghurt on the side. Again, as with the chilli con carne, if you’re making the recipe from scratch, you can adjust the addition of spices to suit your family’s tastebud limitations. If you think you might get resistance to the coriander leaves from anyone, you can always keep those in a separate dish to be added at the table.
So there we have it; three tasty alternatives to making your tried and tested mince meals that will introduce the kids to different types of cuisine. You never know how a new recipe will go down with the kids, but it’s certainly worth giving it a try and, at any rate, it makes mealtimes more interesting for you and your partner!
Have you tried adding a spicing up mince and introducing your children to these different flavours? What do you think of the suggestions above? Please do share in a comment below. And for more family meal time inspiration why not see my family dinner recipe round ups here and here.
Picture credits: mmmsedap Tiba’s Lebanese Food – Sam’s Special (Part 1) $30 via photopin (license) / “chilli-con-carne-recipe” (CC BY 2.0) by deepdarksquid/ Special Curry @ Minoringo @ Harajuku via photopin (license)/ David McKelvey Savoury mince with poached eggs and sweet potato shavings, Green Room Cafe, Logan Road, Woolloongabba via photopin (license)