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Being a primarily vegetarian household I never offer a meat alternative when we have guests for dinner. I’ve even catered for the ‘I don’t eat vegetables so wont be able to eat a vegetarian meal’ guest. I’ve nothing against meat eaters, vegetarianism is my personal choice but after 15+ years of a meat free diet handling fresh or processed meat products churns my stomach – I’ll spare you the detail! Quorn products are widely available and offer a great alternative to a vegetable based diet and can also be a great substitute to meat in general.
My sister first introduced me to Quorn many moons ago, without staking my life on it I guess that was over 10 years ago. I initially purchased some Quorn ready made meals for convenience and was never disappointed with the result however the price left a lot to be desired. Around 18 months ago I noticed whilst shopping a ‘buy one get one free’ offer on frozen Quorn and decided to chuck a few bags in my trolley I haven’t looked back since.
Available either frozen in bags or freshly chilled in trays QUORN MINCE is readily available form most supermarkets. At between £1.72 and £1.99 (dependent upon where you shop) for a 300g frozen bag I tend to stick with the frozen product as the fresh chilled, trays of Quorn are much more costly and no different in taste. Quorn derives from mushroom protein (Mycoprotein) and in its frozen, minced form looks like greyish gravel and I’ll be honest not very appetising.
So what do you do with it I hear you ask? Personally I substitute it in recipes that ask for beefed mince. Like meaty mince, Quorn needs flavouring too and although I have not tried it I can guarantee that on it’s own it would taste quite vile. Prepared, flavoured and cooked in a caring manner and you’ve got a culinary delight in your hands!
To date I’ve used Quorn Mince in the following dishes: Lasagne, Keema Curry, Shepard’s Pie, Chilli Corn Carne, Spaghetti Bolognaise and Moussaka. My mother used to make the best Chilli Corn Carne I ever tasted but being a vegetarian could no longer eat it until of course I discovered Quorn Mince. Using Quorn as a substitute I’m delighted to say that the recipe is equally as tasty as I remember it so I thought I should share it with you! I serve this dish regularly with jacket potatoes and it keeps well for packed lunches and reheating the next day.
CHILLI QUORN CARNE Serves 4
1 x 300g frozen minced Quorn 30ml corn oil 1 onion, peeled and chopped 2 cloves of garlic, crushed ½ green pepper, diced 1 tablespoon chilli powder 1 teaspoon paprika 1 teaspoon cumin seeds 1 tablespoon tomato puree 1 x 400g can red kidney beans 1 x 400g chopped tomatoes 15ml flour Salt & pepper to taste A little water
Heat oil in saucepan. Fry onion until golden, add garlic and green pepper frying for a further 6 minutes. Stir in the chilli powder, paprika, cumin seeds, tomato puree, flour and salt and mix well. Add the frozen Quorn, cook until the Quorn seems unfrozen. Add the tinned tomatoes and drained kidney beans. Cover and simmer for around 30-40 minutes, keeping an eye that the mixture is not becoming too dry – add water is needed.
And there you have it one of the best Chilli Con Carne’s I’ve ever tasted. (Should you be a meat eater you can substitute the Quorn with 500g of minced beef.)
So cooking with Quorn really is that simple. I’ve heard a few objections – my mum refused to use Quorn for years as the eggs used to grow the mushroom protein were not free range. Eggs used in Quorn are now ALL free range – my mother told me this last month, she received a mailing from the vegetarian society. Some people mentioned allergies – well like most products a full listing of ingredients is on the back of the packet and so if you’re interested in Quorn check out the packets for any intolerant ingredients.
If substituting Quorn for minced beef remember – Quorn wont have the same fat content as meat would so extra liquid is normally needed to avoid the Quorn drying and sticking to the pan.
Widely available from most supermarkets this product is regularly on offer so I normally stock up when offer prices are usually £1.99 for 2 bags. The polythene bags are small and wont take up much room in the freezer.
On filling out the usual Ciao 'Specific Criteria' section I should mention that Quorn doesn't smell nor does it tste of much and as I've stated in this opinion it's really down to you as to how you flavour and prepare the product.
Please note – I am intending to travel to Bristol for the forthcoming Ciao Meet. We only have a passenger vehicle so unfortunately I will be unable to fulfil any orders from members! COOK YOUR OWN!
I often cook Quorn spag bol – it is good, but you’re right about needing to flavour it! Vicki
flickety-split 15.10.2003 17:08
Thanks for the recipe! My fiance is the world's biggest meat eater whilst I have been a veggie for 10 years. I often swap his mince for Quorn when I'm cooking spag bol etc and he never seems to notice til about half way through! Try it sometime! :)