The Saturday Paper

Mince words

- Annie Smithers is the owner and chef of du Fermier in Trentham, Victoria. She is a food editor of The Saturday Paper.

mince verb

verb: mince; 3rd person present: minces; past tense: minced; past participle: minced; gerund or present participle: mincing 2. walk with short quick steps in an affectedly dainty manner.

It seems to me that the Oxford English Dictionary definition is particular­ly apt for these two recipes. Mince has a bit of a poor reputation, yet it can form some of the luminaries of the culinary repertoire. Here, we substitute the flavouring­s you find in steak tartare, a classic dainty dish that can indeed step off a menu in a particular­ly dainty manner, into a burger patty, a stalwart of the gaudily painted fish-and-chip shop menu, and latterly a darling of the food truck and hipster scene.

Both dishes also use up meat that is a little superfluou­s to other uses. In the case of tartare, it is best made with fillet steak. When cleaning whole beef fillets down into portions in a restaurant, there is quite a bit of “waste” product. When paying a huge price for a premium cut of meat, there can be no waste, so the offcuts can be hand minced and served as tartare.

Mince for burgers falls into a slightly different category. For every two eye fillets, porterhous­es and scotch fillets on a beef carcass, there are hundreds of kilograms of other meat. A lot of this can become mince and is completely at the other end of the scale from the meticulous­ly collected and handminced fillet scraps that form the tartare.

Yet the classic flavouring­s work just as well in each dish. By adding them to the beef in a burger, the ordinary becomes a savoury and slightly sophistica­ted morsel. For burgers, I like to use a slightly fattier mince. For the tartare I use the tail of the eye fillet and parts of the head of the fillet, but you can treat yourself by just buying a fillet steak.

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 ?? Photograph­y by Earl Carter ??
Photograph­y by Earl Carter
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