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Meliz Berg’s One Pot Spiced Mince Linguine

by Meliz Berg from Dinner Tonight

Meliz Berg's easy one-pot linguine is the perfect flavourful midweek meal. The delicious beef mince sauce is flavoured with pul biber, cinnamon and mint, and topped with plenty of grated halloumi.

From the book

Introduction

I have grown up eating pasta cooked directly in the sauce and I adore the way the pasta soaks up the flavour of the juices while it bubbles away. Ensure to gently push long strands of linguine into the sauce as they cook, and stir it as it softens to ensure the strands don’t clump together in the sauce or stick to the bottom of the pan. Saucy and delicious, and laden with lashings of grated hellim (halloumi cheese) and dried mint, this really is a simple, midweek treat. Feel free to swap the linguine for spaghetti.

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Ingredients

1 chicken or vegetable stock cube
800ml (1pt 7fl oz) boiling hot water
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
¾ tsp sea salt flakes
500g (1lb 2oz) beef mince
4 large garlic cloves, finely grated
1 tsp pul biber (Aleppo pepper/ Turkish red pepper flakes)
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp dried mint
½ tsp coarse black pepper
2 tbsp tatlı biber salçası (Turkish sweet (mild) red pepper paste)
1 x 400g (14oz) tin chopped tomatoes
100ml (3½fl oz) milk
300g (11oz) dried linguine
150g (5½oz) hellim (halloumi cheese), finely grated

Method

In a large jug, whisk the crumbled stock cube into the boiling water until fully dissolved, and leave to one side. Add the olive oil to a large, deep, non-stick pan and place on the hob over a medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion to the pan, sprinkle in half of the salt, turn up the heat a little and cook the onion for around 5–6 minutes until it starts to caramelise around the edges.

Add the mince, turn the heat up, and break down the mince with the back of a wooden spoon. Stir the onion into the mince, then leave the mince to brown without stirring. After 3–4 minutes, once the underside of the mince is crispy, add the garlic, pul biber, ground cinnamon, 1 tsp of the dried mint, the coarse black pepper and the remaining sea salt flakes to the pan, and stir well.

Add the tatlı biber salçası, stir it well into the mince, add the chopped tomatoes and stir again, leaving the tomatoes to sizzle into the meat for a minute or two. Fill up the empty tomato tin with cold water and top up the stock with enough water from the tin to bring the liquid in the jug up to 1 litre (1¾ pints). Pour the stock and the milk into the pan, stir, and once it comes up to the boil, add the linguine to the pan, gently separating the strands into the sauce. Turn the hob down to a low-medium heat. Keep an eye on the linguine for the first couple of minutes, and once it starts softening, ensure to push down any of the pasta slightly sticking out of the pan into the sauce, continuing to gently swish and separate the strands with a large pair of tongs.

Once the linguine has softened into the pan, cook for around 10–12 minutes, gently stirring with the tongs every couple of minutes, until the pasta is cooked through but still a little al dente. Serve in large bowls, and sprinkle generously with the hellim and remaining dried mint.

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