Ratatouille in a Veal Case

Mince is so versatile but really needs imaginative seasoning and many people say they don’t know what to do with it beyond shepherd’s pie. This is a sort of ratatouille (you can alter the vegetables if you like, according to what you have) in a minced veal case flavoured with tomato, garlic, mustard and rosemary. I have it as a main course with fried potatoes and a simple green salad, and it is unusual and very good. You can ask the butcher to mince some pie veal for you. Large supermarkets now often sell minced veal, or pork which you could also use for this recipe.

Ingredients

For the Filling

  • ¾ lb tomatoes (350 g)
  • ½ lb mushrooms (225 g)
  • 2 green peppers
  • 1 large onion
  • olive oil
  • butter
  • salt, pepper

For the Meat Case

  • 1 ½ lb minced veal (700 g)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato purée
  • about 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
  • 2 cloves garlic – crushed
  • 3 teaspoons French mustard
  • 2 small or 1 large egg – lightly whisked
  • 3 oz plain flourwholemeal tastes good for this (75 g)
  • salt, black pepper

Method

Make the filling first. Melt a little olive oil and butter in a large frying pan. Chop up the peppers and onions and gently fry them until they have softened. Then chop up the tomatoes – I think they are better skinned – and the mushrooms and add them to the onions and peppers. Let mixture cool in the pan while you prepare the meat case.

For the Meat Case

Heat oven to Gas 3 (325°F/160°C). In a mixing bowl put the veal, the rosemary, the crushed garlic, the mustard, the tomato purée, a very generous sprinkling of salt and black pepper and the whisked egg. Mix all thoroughly together with a wooden spoon. Stir in the flour. Flour a board. Have ready an 8–9 in (20–23 cm) flan dish – a china or earthenware one is best for this. With floured hands gather the mixture up into a ball. Take just under two thirds of it and press it out with your floured hands on to the board in a circular shape bigger than the flan dish. Line the flan dish with the circle, pushing it up the sides so it extends slightly over the rim. Put the vegetable filling in. Now make another flat circle with the remaining meat mixture, moisten the edge with a little water and put it on top, pressing down the edges so that they overlap a bit as the meat will shrink slightly while cooking. Spoon or brush a little olive oil over the top. Bake in the centre of the oven for ¾–1 hour. To serve just cut it in slices like a pie.

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