Minced meat can be cooked in many ways – a quick web search comes up with multiple listings of recipes with even serious chefs like Gordon Ramsay in the game. As a white, Anglo-Australian, my childhood mince dishes were very basic and all made with beef. The diversity of Australian food now sees the meat source widened to include pork, veal, lamb (a favourite) and chicken. Here are a few of my top picks.
Classic beef Hamburger + 2018 Yalumba Vine Vale Grenache, Barossa Valley, A$40
Home-made burgers are the best. It’s a build-your-own at my place with the only frills being a fried egg and crispy bacon, no sludgy cheese on offer. Top-notch beef is the key, plus my own secret herbs and spices, and a good dollop of Lancashire relish. The wine needs to be robust but not heavy, so a grenache or a GSM blend is my pick. Here Kevin Glastonbury takes a ‘pinotesque’ approach to the winemaking with gentle extraction and minimal oak influence. The chips come from the local takeaway.
Spaghetti Bolognese with Pork and Veal mince + 2019 Tar & Roses Sangiovese, Heathcote, A$25
My mother only used beef as there was no choice at our local butchery. Nowadays I follow the Italian method using both pork and veal, ground to order by Michael Borg, Orange’s bespoke butcher. The Italian theme continues with Narelle King’s take on Tuscany’s cornerstone variety, sangiovese. The Tar & Roses is medium-bodied, its subtle, savoury flavours in sync with the tomato-rich spag bol. I use freshly grated Grana Padano for a good umami hit.
Beef Chilli con Carne + 2020 AIX Maison Saint Aix Rosé, Provence, France, A$34
My mother made an ersatz version of chilli con carne by adding a can of kidney beans to her sauce but no real kick of chilli. My version is with fresh birds-eye chillies, and a side serve of crème fraîche and guacamole. Beer is good, though I find the Mexican favourite Corona rather bland, even with the mandatory wedge of lime. A better option is a dry rosé, with this Provençale benchmark right on target. For a local hero, try the De Bortoli Villages Heathcote Grenache Rosé (A$22).
Lamb Kofta + 2018 Terres Dorées Le Ronsay Beaujolais AC, Beaujolais, France, A$29
I love lamb mince and substitute it for beef in many recipes – cottage pie, moussaka and lamb-burgers for a start. However, to be completely traditional, kofta must be made with lamb and well spiced with cumin. I enjoy a light red with kofta – like the Turkish Vinkara Kalecik Karasi (A$28) or Lebanese Chateau Oumsiyat Jaspe Red (A$28). Both are somewhat scant, for a more available lithe red, try Jean-Paul Brun’s juicy gamay; it’s a cracker.
Chicken Larb + 2018 Bloodwood Riesling, Orange, A$32
Chicken mince is new to me, but I’ve found it a great substitute for pork in a traditional Laotian larb. I use mint, coriander and lemongrass with a tickle of chilli and serve it with a wedge of lime. And what better wine than a riesling – and a local one at that. Rhonda and Stephen Doyle have championed riesling for 35 years, with this aromatic gem from the 2018 vintage the pinnacle of their winemaking.
Pork San Choy Bau + 2019 Chalmers Montevecchio Bianco, Heathcote, A$24
Take the larb theme to China and it becomes San Choy Bau. Pork is the preference here with ginger, garlic, soy and oyster sauce and, for a touch of exotica (and texture), water chestnuts. The iceberg lettuce cups add extra crunch. As such, a crunchy wine is required and the latest Montevecchio Bianco is just that. It’s a blend of vermentino, fiano, falanghina and a splash of moscato giallo – lemon fresh and zesty.
Robust reds work well with beef mince, but pork and chicken demand aromatic and crunchy white wines.