I've been chastised by the sis-I-wish-I-had that I've never posted a recipe for one of my favourite most-loved meals! I have adapted a Nigel Slater pilaf recipe and added stuff to make it a meal rather than an accompaniement. Apologies if I have posted it, I couldn't find it, but it's something the kids adore (both had seconds) and is so easy, tasty and cheap.
I always keep a big bag of frozen lamb mince in the bottom drawer of the freezer. A 1.5kg bag from Sainsbury's lasts 3-4 meals at least. I usually have a bag of frozen chopped onion, a luxury, but welcome if I'm in a REAL hurry.
So using a pan with a decent lid, I fry the chopped onion (a medium one, or a handful of the frozen ready-chopped) in about an ounce of butter. Once soft and golden, (about 4 or 5 mins) I add a bit of cinnamon or cassia bark, about 6 cracked cardomom pods and 2 bay leaves. These leaves really make a difference, so please don't leave them out. Occasionally I also add a teaspoon of cumin seeds. Today, I forgot. After a minute of stirring in the butter, these release a lovely fragrance. At this point Mr Slater and I part company as I add some lamb mince, (peas and sweetcorn too. The sweetcorn is not utterly necessary, but Littl'Un prefers it to peas, so it's a compromise.) Once mince is browned I add the veg, then the rice - a generous cup, about 225g. Coat it well, then add stock powder, you all know what I use, and then about 300ml hot water. (You all know where I get that from too!) Bring to the boil, cover, lower the flame and allow to cook for 15 minutes. It should boil hard enough to give little puffs but not rattle the lid. Now this is important: when the timer goes off after 15 minutes, SWITCH OFF THE HEAT, BUT DO NOT LIFT THE LID FOR ANOTHER 5 MINS. Set the timer again, lay the table, THEN lift the lid. Inhale. Aaaahhh. It smells divine, but in reality needs a little salt, stir well, serve.
Littl'Un likes to stir dollops of creamy organic yoghurt in, I like a mouth-puckering mango pickle. BigUn just has it as is, but lots.
Try it. You'll be glad you did!