Here's How To Cook Mince Without Getting That Weird Grey Water, And It's Pretty Simple

<span class="copyright">Philippe Gerber via Getty Images</span>
Philippe Gerber via Getty Images

Ah, mince ― the trusty workhorse (2013 equestrian meat scandal reference unintentional) of the kitchen.

It belongs in Bolognese. It’s perfect in burgers. And I love it in lasagne, too ― even if Mary Berry sometimes puts chicken in hers.

But its beefy benefits aren’t without a cost. I refer, of course, to the Grey Puddle of Shame.

In a recent TikTok, cooking account @cookslasheat shared that “every time I see someone cooking something with minced meat, I am literally horrified” by the lack of browning and presence of murky mince milk.

So what should I do to get rid of it?

It sounds glib, but ― cook it. Starting with a preheated pan. And keep cooking.

“The point of browning your meat before you add your veg... is to introduce something called the Maillard reaction,” the cooking guru revealed.

That’s a series of chemical processes which makes food brown; it’s also “responsible for the browned, complex flavours that make bread taste toasty and malty, burgers taste charred, and coffee taste dark and robust,” Serious Eats says.

“Instead of throwing your veg into some grey boiled meat, start with a medium-hot pan... break it up as you normally would... [and] let it go for longer” than you normally would,” the TikToker shared.

That prevents you from turning your mince into basically a “grey steak,” because you’re rendering out the fat ― “if you’re the kind of person who pours away the, er, ‘fat’ when you’re coking mince... but you’re not rendering it properly, all you’re pouring away is... the water that comes out of the meat as it heats up.”

Throwing away that “water” means surrendering unrendered fat which contains precious flavour, he added.

So how do I know it’s done? 

If your meat has brown flecks on it ― “literally pure concentrated flavour” ― you’re looking good.

And you need not worry about overcooking the meat, the TikToker shared, as mince is made from extremely tough cuts.

Seeing as cooking the meat longer on a medium-heat pan renders out the fat rather than just forcing out water, it’ll be able to both offer its own meaty depth and absorb more seasoning and sauces too.

And in case you think this food lover is alone, they’re not ― “a little bit of colour on the mince, and it gets rid of that unwanted fat,” Gordon Ramsay shared in a The F Word shepherd’s pie recipe.

“Nothing worse than a greasy shepherd’s pie,” he added ― I’m with you there, Gordon.