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Backstory: I've never really lived independently before (even during college) and I've never really had to fend for myself much, so please forgive this elementary cooking question.

I have about 1kg of ground/minced beef, I also have a large (~700g) jar of "spaghetti sauce".

I asked my parents what to do, but they were too busy to give anything more than fleeting advice. I understand I have to simmer the beef in the sauce for about an hour or two?

...but the beef's packaging label says it only needs about 7 minutes of cooking in a skillet or saucepan at 70degC/160degF (which seems a bit low to me - I thought all cooking was done at 100degC or above?). There are no instructions given on the jar of sauce.

What do I do? Who is correct, the beef packaging or my mother?

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I don't think the 70° are meant as the temperature of the stove; it is probably the temperature the meat is supposed to reach. (This would be normal internal temperature for a whole braising cut). Set the stove to a higher temperature (if you measure it at all), you normally don't need to bother with internal temp for minced meat, it is important for steaks and roasts. –  rumtscho Sep 27 '12 at 9:59
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2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Fry the mince in a saucepan big enough to hold the sauce until it's brown all over, add the sauce and simmer for an hour or two.

Mince is usually made from cheap cuts of meat. This means, while it will technically be cooked after a few minutes, it will also be tough and chewy. Browning it in the pan then simmering it slowly in the sauce will result in nice tender, tasty mince.

Incidentally, 1kg of meat is a lot for one person, so be prepared to portion it out into freezer bags or tubs. All you have to do then is defrost it overnight in the fridge then reheat in the pan for a quick meal.

You might also consider bulking it up a little with some diced onions and carrots; there might be some in the sauce jar but they will be mush. Fry them in the pan for 10 minutes on a medium heat before adding the mince and proceeding as above.

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and while that mince is frying, push at it with a wooden spoon all the time to break it up into individual separate crumbles that will end up distributed throughout the sauce. Don't plop the whole piece in and cook it like a giant burger. (Don't know the OP, but have cooked with newly-off-to-uni students before.) –  Kate Gregory Sep 27 '12 at 11:01
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You should add that the meat will probably produce a lot of grease that should be poured off before adding the sauce. –  Carey Gregory Sep 27 '12 at 14:35
    
The meat can also be seasoned with some salt and pepper - use sparingly though! It's easy to add a little more seasoning if necessary, impossible (almost) to un-do! :-) –  Kristina Lopez Sep 27 '12 at 17:42
    
Thanks. I did let it simmer for about 10 minutes, but by then the sauce was almost congealed, so I stopped it and served it up and ate it then. It was actually quite nice. –  Dai Sep 30 '12 at 2:42
    
It sounds as if that's a very thick sauce. If you make up 500ml of beef stock (paste cubes like Knorr are best if using cubes) and add that along with sauce, stir, then just get a bare simmer going (not a full on boil), it can tick along for a couple of hours and the mince will be much nicer. –  ElendilTheTall Sep 30 '12 at 12:16
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160°F is the internal temperature. You don't need to worry about it. To cook it, you do this normally till the internal temperature is 160°F. What I do is use the skillet to brown my meat all the way, use a wooden ladle or spatula to break it into smaller pieces, drain the oil, add sauce and herbs and spices, let simmer, cool and server.

Personal note: rosemary will make your spaghetti sweet and unappetizing.

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