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New Zealand claims mince on toast as US website calls it ‘British classic’

New Zealand has claimed the “abomination” and “monstrosity” that is mince on toast, after uproar in the UK when an American food website said it was a classic of British cuisine.

The US website eater.com posted a video featuring mince on toast to Twitter on Monday, saying: “Mince meat on toast is a quintessential British comfort classic.”

There was an immediate backlash from Brits on social media, with most claiming they’d never heard of it, let alone tried it, and deriding it as a “monstrosity” and an “abomination”.

“For god sake @eater what are you on?” posted Observer restuarant critic Jay Rayner. “Apart from mince on toast, something I have never eaten.”

“Never ever ever ever ever, ever ever,” wrote musician Neil Claxton, “in a month of Sundays ever ever has anyone in Britain eaten this mess.”

But in New Zealand, on the other hand, mince and toast is a common meal around the country, both at home and in homely cafes. The NZ staple has even begun to infiltrate brunch menus at upmarket cafes, where it can command NZ$15 (£8.50) and above.

“To me it is something that has been around for ever: we had it as children and I would say generations of people on farms have eaten it in New Zealand,” said Helen Jackson, a food writer and former food editor at the New Zealand Women’s Weekly magazine.

“It is an absolute rural classic. Rural people used to have meat for pretty much three meals a day and you could heat leftover mince up for lunch or Sunday night dinner with buttered toast.

“And we’d make mince and cheese toasted sandwiches as well.”

Jackson says modern versions of mince and toast tend to “jazz it up” a little, by adding a poached egg on top, BBQ sauce, grated cheese or sour cream.

“I absolutely love it and I encourage my kids to have it now. It is the ultimate comfort food and it is delicious, and I think we should keep it going.”

Anthony Bentley, owner of the Akaroa Cooking School in the South Island, said it had never occurred to him that mince and toast was a unique New Zealand dish, but he had never eaten or seen it anywhere else in the world.

“Mince on toast tends to be a leftover dish that you’d eat for breakfast or lunch the next day if you’d had a shepherd’s pie or lasagne base. Mince is always nicer the next day, it amalgamates the flavours,” said Bentley.

“That is the usual way Kiwis have it; it would not be that common as a meal you’d start from scratch.

“The recipes of old school are popping up on modern menus these days, which is great because it is such a classic, and is making quite a comeback in trendy Auckland cafes and the like.”

Most recipes call for the mince to be slightly thick in consistency, or else it can be difficult to eat and can soak through the bread. Thick, sturdy breads such as sourdough work best.

“I haven’t seen it anywhere else in the world,” says Jackson.

“I hadn’t really thought about people not eating it anywhere else because to me, why wouldn’t you? To me it is a logical and delicious thing to do.”

Mince on toast

Serves 1

1 cup country style mince (see below)

dash of Worcestershire sauce

2 thick slices bread

¼ cup grated tasty Cheddar cheese

Heat the mince in a small saucepan and add Worcestershire sauce to taste.

Toast the bread until golden, and butter if you like.

Place the toast on a dinner plate, spoon over the mince and sprinkle with grated cheese.

Country-style mince

750g prime beef mince

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 onions, finely chopped

2 carrots, diced

1 stalk celery, finely sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped

3 cups beef stock

2 tablespoons tomato paste

Heat a large frying pan and brown mince in batches; transfer to a large saucepan once it is well browned.

Heat olive oil in the frying pan and gently cook onions, carrots, celery and garlic for 10-15 minutes until the onions are tender.

Transfer vegetables to the saucepan and add stock and tomato paste. If using a good quality stock you will need to add salt, whereas commercial stocks are often salty so if using them wait to taste before seasoning.

Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 hours, topping up with a little water if needed.

Rub butter into flour until you get a smooth ball – you may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky. Gradually add small balls of mixture into the mince and allow to dissolve and thicken the mince. Once you get to the desired thickness of sauce then you won’t need to add any more.

Simmer for a further 15 minutes to cook the flour and then remove from the heat. Once cool, refrigerate until cold.

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