Recently I have decided to heavily cut back on the amount of meat I eat. I do not possess any where near the requisite will power to become a vegetarian full time but I have pretty much stopped buying and therefore cooking with meat. This is in part a money saving venture but predominately I just enjoy being able to smugly reflect on the microscopic sacrifice I am making for the good of the environment every time I get on a plane or accidentally put some plastic in the normal bin.
Actually cooking without meat is pretty hard, especially if you like trying out new things in the kitchen. At first it was an exciting challenge, but after about a month of the same 5 vegetables variously disguised as curries, chilli and stew, I was starting to get pretty bored. This shepherds pie, despite not exactly reinventing the wheel, does provide a bit of a contrast. The lentils are a good alternative to mince and give a fairly similar texture and the whole dish is comfortingly familiar; perfect for a chilly winter night.
It seems to me, the toughest challenge faced by budding student foodies is finding as many uses for mince as is humanly possible. Chilli, lasagne, spag bol and shepherds pie are on the menu every otter night in unit up and down the country. Mince is such a good ingredient when you’re cooking on a budget, it is cheap and really adaptable. Sometimes the old classics get a bit boring though so here’s a recipe for mince that is a bit different.
This recipe is really simple except, for any sauce- virgins out there, the homemade cheese sauce might prove tricky. You can obviously substitute this for something from a jar but white sauce is such a useful thing to learn how to make, you only need 3 ingredients, all of which most people will have in the house already. The quantities here are just guidelines really, I don’t normally measure it all out, you just need enough butter so all the flour is incorporated but no more. The key is not to get frustrated, if it goes wrong you can try again, it won’t break the bank! Other things to remember: just keep whisking and it should turn out alright and don’t use a non-stick pan because the whisk will scratch off the coating. Continue reading