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May 14, 2007 | by  | in Opinion |
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Beef and Beans with Pasta

When one thinks of student cooking, “1000 things to do with mince” is often what springs to mind. Frankly, minced beef seems to be pretty expensive these days but if (like most students) you have some in your freezer, consider the following recipe as another string to your bow when you get tired of the nachos/spag bol routine.

The title says it all – blokey, filling, and wintry. This uses only one pot so is worth considering if you’re on dishes that night.

1 onion
400g tin borlotti beans
1 clove garlic or 1 tsp crushed garlic
250g minced beef
1 carrot
400g tin tomatoes
1 litre of stock (beef for preference, but go nuts)
1⁄2 stick celery
1-2 T olive oil or butter
250g macaroni

Chop all your vegetables finely (this is a bit labour intensive and if you are in a belligerent mood you could leave out the carrot and celery, but they are cheap and add wonderful flavour) or just slice roughly and bung the lot into a processor, blending until it forms a nubbly mix.

Heat the oil in a good sized pot and soften your vegetables, however they come, for about 5 minutes. Add the minced beef and stir about with a wooden spoon until brown. Add the tomatoes and the drained tin of borlotti beans (these tend to be a $1-2 a can but, in dire straits, a well drained can of baked beans will do). Slowly pour in the stock, stir and bring to the boil. Once boiling steadily, tip in your pasta and cook (uncovered) for about 15–20 minutes. The pasta will have absorbed the meaty juices and your dinner will be ready to eat – either adulteated with grated cheese and sweet chilli sauce, or left unadorned. This serves two with leftovers and, reheated, makes for a bolstering breakfast on a chilly morning.

When I started flatting, my boyfriend and I didn’t have a bed for three months, let alone money for exciting ingredients. So it is in the spirit of that cold and often miserable time that I bring forward the bargain food tip of the week: chicken mince is not to be sneered at for a less expensive substitute to beef. Seriously. I have bought free range minced chicken from Pak ‘n’ Save which was super cheap. The texture wasn’t too spooky, either.

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