Reporter: James Thomas

Butcher "(mince is) the most versatile product out there on the fresh food market. It is great value for money and it is also nutritious for the kids and the whole family and survey's have suggested it is the most prepared food in Australia. Be it in a burger, a taco or everyone's favourite ....the Italian inspired Bolognese.

Mince is experiencing a renaissance; you can use it with any kind of cuisine all countries around the world use mince.

The average Australian consumes 35 kilos of beef mince per year. that's an annual spend of roughly $2.1 billion dollars and butcher Steve hack says Aussies are catching on to the idea that mince doesn't always have to be beef.

We've got out lamb mince, we have our pork mince, our lean chicken mince, our veal mince, our pork and veal mince, you can even find turkey mince and fish mince if you look hard enough, which is all well and good but what do you do with it?

For a lot of Italian cooking they ask for pork and veal, Middle Eastern, lamb mince, and a lot of Asian cooking they ask for pork and chicken mince."

Nutritionist Matt O'neill "mince can be really healthy if it's lean and the leaner it is the more protein - protein's good for building muscles, good for recovery, and it actually makes us feel fuller, so mince is a good thing to include in dishes to help you lose weight, because you eat less as well.

If you are at a supermarket buy the top quality gourmet mince. At a butcher stick with premium topside - this way, nutritionist Matt O'Neil says the fat content will be under 5% and the salt content low.

The 2% and the 5% that's really, really lean, in fact if you think about the leanness, you go game meat, maybe kangaroo meat, kangaroo meat burns off all the fat just running around before they catch it, so if you don't mind eating kangaroos, that's going to be your leanest.

with chicken mince, be careful that it's colour is not too white - that would indicate a high percentage of fat. with pork mince, look for the heart smart variety for low fat."

"It looks like they're doping the mince to make it look fresher than it is."

Food authorities have caught retailers adding sulphur dioxide to their meat to make it look brighter and fresher than it really is. to avoid this, only use butchers with high turnover and if you can afford it, buy only top quality mince. the large supermarkets are also a good bet as they guarantee no sulphur dioxide is added to their beef mince.

Matt o'neill "you're going to pay more for five star mince, but here's how you can pat it out, if you cook chilli con carne or Bolognese with another 50% of vegetables, diced carrots, zucchini, you can even put in red lentils as well, you're going to dramatically reduce the cost, eat healthy and save money as well. and the kids won't even know they are getting veges...

"Us Italians eat pasta all the time and we are just used to the taste of the sauce." The Sinacori kids, all 8 of them, are experts when it comes to their favourite mince dish - bolognese. so who better to judge mum's version against two seasoned professionals.

"We are in the kitchen of celebrated chef Damien Pignolet, he's doing a traditional bolognese, with many of the traditional ingredients, his head chef tom, is doing a bit of a modern take, he's got lamb mince and veal mince, he's got citrus in there, apple, all sorts of weird ingredients, and who knows how they'll fair against mother Marissa, mother of 8. good luck!

Marissa is nervous, but remember, it will take a pretty special bolognese from the two chefs to win over the biased palates of Marissa's 8 loyal children and husband Simon

James "do you reckon you know your wife's bolognese taste?"

Simon "oh yes, without a doubt."

our expert judges have not been told who cooked which bolognese...

meal one

first up is the master. Damian Pignolet.

James "nervous?"

Damian "terrified."

Damian's bolognese is strictly traditional. onion, celery and carrot are added to cooked pancetta, then in with top quality beef mince, white wine and milk.

Pignolet "the lactic acid helps bind it,"

When the milk reduces, Damian adds whole tomatoes and tomato passata, it is well received by our expert judging panel!

I think it was the guy with the orange clogs!

She's good. the second bolognese is mum's and it seems her flock know it well.

you like this as well?

claudia: yes, this is my mum's

James "she doesn't know it yet, but she's right."

Lastly, head chef Tom Walton serves up his modern take on bolognese, this time it is lamb and veal mince with rosemary, apple and orange zest and while our judges don't know who cooked it, they love it.

All dishes were well received and we should probably disclose our judging system may have had some faults due to innumeracy...

nonetheless, we did manage to get a result!

James "Ok, according to all of you, third place or the lowest score was the blue dish. who cooked that?"

Damian "Me sir"

James "Only one of the most famous chefs in the country mate, what let you down?"

"They are just too fine a palate." Damian

Thankfully Mr Pignolet has a thick skin and was very modest in defeat.

Second place was the yellow dish, who cooked that?

Ahhh, Marissa your kids deserted you!

it was the shock of the day. marissa was cheated of first place by her very own kids...!

Marissa "I am not cooking anymore."

James "ok, so the winner with a mix of veal and lamb was tom. A round of applause"

Mamma Marisa's Spaghetti Bolognese

Chop brown onions and fry in olive oil

Add 500 grams of 5 star premium mince

Add 1/4 cup of wine

Add 1 bottle of tomato sauce

A pinch of cinnamon

A table spoon of salt


Ragu Bolognaise

Damien Pignolet, Bistro Moncur

3 tbsp butter

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

100g finely diced fat pancetta

* Cook to release the fat in the pancetta

250g finely diced onion

150g finely diced celery

200g finely diced carrot

* Sweat, covered over low heat for 10 mintues.

1kg medium minced beef at room temperature

* Add to the vegetables and use a fork to break up the mince - don't brown - just let the redness turn to grey

1 bottle white wine

* Add and reduce to dry

600mL milk

* Add and reduce until almost dry

1L tomato passata

* Add and cook for 10 minutes

2x450g tomatoes squeezed in little bits

* Return to the boil

Salt, pepper and nutmeg

* Lay a piece of baking paper on the surface

Cook in the oven at 110-120oC for one hour.

Lamb and veal bolognaise

Tom Walton - Head chef, Bistro Moncur


500g lamb mince

500g veal mince

50ml olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

1 stick celery, finely chopped

2 clove garlic, finely chopped

zest of orange

1 sprig of rosemary, finely chopped

4 fillets anchovy, finely chopped

2 tblsp organic tomato paste

100ml white wine

250ml veal stock


Cook onion, carrot, celery, garlic, anchovy, rosemary, orange, over a low heat until soft.

About 10 minutes, add the mince, increase the heat and cook the mince to break up.

Add tomato paste, white wine and veal stock and cook over a low heat for 1.5 hours.

Add water if the sauce becomes too dry.

Serve with parmesan.