Home FOOD Compli-mince to the chef...

Compli-mince to the chef…

Give mince a makeover with this magnificent recipe from rising culinary star, chef Ruth Marovatsanga. We’ve also got a few nifty mince tips up our sleeves to share…

When 27-year-old Rutendo Ruth Marovatsanga scooped up the coveted Young Star Chef of the Year Award at the One&Only Reaching for Young Stars project in 2018, little did she realise it was the start of what was to become the culinary adventure of a lifetime.

As part of her prize, Ruth jetted off to Dubai to take up an intense mentorship experience at the One&Only The Palm and the One&Only The Mirage in Dubai.

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Her time in Dubai included a spell working in various restaurants under the wings of executive chefs and she further built up her culinary experience in 12 bars and restaurants, one of these being the three Michelin star restaurant, Stay, with chef Yannick Alléno.

Ruth barely had time to unpack her bags before she flew off to the US to take up a six-month work experience opportunity at Winslow’s Tavern, a highly-rated restaurant in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. This top heritage restaurant, housed in a historic building, is run by South Africans, chef patron Phillip and Tracey Hunt.

‘My 2020 plan includes increasing my knowledge in the front of house aspect of a restaurant and paying more attention to food and wine pairing. Now I’ve gained sufficient experience and knowledge about the food, it’s time to also understand the wine and service side of a restaurant. Within the next few years, I want to be a restaurant manager who can roll up her sleeves when the commis chef doesn’t show up for duty, as well as a chef who can easily recommend a wine to pair with the food.’

If Ruth had the opportunity to cook for five famous people, she’d make beef Wellington for Gordon Ramsey; southern fried chicken for Michelle and Barack Obama; something sweet – maybe a toffee pudding – for Jamie Oliver and chicken biryani for Alex Guarnaschelli, the executive chef at New York City’s Butter restaurant.

Ruth shares her favourite mince recipe with us.

Tips for jollying up your mince

It always pays to keep mince on hand. It’s your budget-friendly bestie, ready to help out with quick-and-easy meals. Think cottage pie, spaghetti bolognese (kids love it!) and bobotie. From Italy … lasagne, from SA … vetkoek with curried mince. There are also sausage rolls and burgers, chilli con carne, tacos, meatballs and meatloaf. All you need is a kilo of mince, with chopped onions, garlic, salt and black pepper, oregano, basil and coriander – and you’re already halfway there!

We found these five great tips to master mince:

  1. By swapping to a leaner mince, traditional recipes can become healthier. For classics like spaghetti bolognese, cottage pie and chilli con carne, a lean mince is the best choice. For burgers and meat loafs, mince with a higher fat content helps to achieve the right texture.
  2. Looking for a simple way to spice up your beef mince? Just add dry onion soup mix. Loaded with onions and a variety of other spices, who knew a little packet could pack so much punch?
  3. If you like the salty, tangy flavour Worcestershire sauce gives your meat, why not try substituting it for soy sauce? If the soy sauce is making your meat a little too wet, just add a few bread crumbs or … peanut butter! Think of it like beef satay.
  4. To brown mince correctly, you should only put some of the mince in the pan at a time, not all of it. Adding too much mince at once reduces the temperature inside, meaning it won’t brown. It also causes all the beef’s liquid to be released, making it turn grey and tough.
  5. Browning meatballs before baking them gives extra flavour, and coating them in a tomato sauce as they cook helps keep them nice and juicy. Meatballs, along with a bowl of spaghetti, a glass of red … and dinner’s served!

Chef Ruth’s terrine

This works really well for a light lunch and can be prepared three days ahead and stored in the fridge. Simply bring it to room temperature before serving.

(Serves: 8)

You’ll need:

350g rindless streaky bacon rashers; 250g chicken livers; 300g minced pork; 450g minced beef; 1 large finely chopped onion; 2 cloves crushed garlic; 5ml dried oregano; 2.5ml ground allspice; 115g unsalted melted butter; 120ml dry sherry; salt and ground black pepper according to taste


Preheat the oven to 180°C.

With the back of a knife, stretch the bacon rashers. Use them to line the terrine dish or other ovenproof dish, leaving the rasher ends hanging over the sides.

Finely chop the chicken livers and mix with the minced pork, minced beef, onion, garlic, oregano, allspice, and melted butter. Stir in the sherry and season with salt and pepper.

Spoon the mixture into the dish and fold the ends of the bacon over the top. Cover tightly with foil or a lid, then stand the dish in a deep roasting tin. Fill the tin with enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the terrine dish. Cook in the oven for 90 minutes, then remove and cover with fresh foil. Place a weight on top and leave to cool, chill for up to 24 hours, then turn out and cut into slices.

Serve with warm crusty bread or toast, topped with gherkins.

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