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Mark Moriarty: two 15-minute meals made easy, with a few simple tricks

Store cupboard ingredients will help maximise flavour in minimum time for these flavour-filled lamb and beef recipes

This week we are talking about speed and the art of maximising flavour in minimum time. The great Jamie Oliver revolutionised cooking at home with the mantra of 15-minute meals, so you’ll have to excuse me while I jump aboard the wagon.

For most readers of this column, you’ll probably cook with two styles of recipes. There’s the longer, leisurely recipes for the weekends, when you may have guests to impress or just enjoy the therapy of the project. Then there are what I call the functional recipes, these use basic ingredients designed to be cooked at pace, feeding a crowd, ticking a box and moving on with the day.

Technology is also helping this brand of functional cookery, with air fryers and slow cookers rapidly gaining popularity.

For me, the key to these functional recipes are your store cupboard ingredients, the pots, bottles and jars of seasonings and flavour bombs that normally take time to develop in our longer recipes, time we don’t always have. In this week’s recipes, you’ll find some great quality base ingredients like Irish lamb mince and some nicely aged striploin steak. The flavour is fast-tracked with ingredients such as feta cheese, olives, tomato ketchup and Tabasco sauce.


First up, I’m cooking stir-fried lamb with couscous, olives and mint. I’m using lamb mince, which is lighter in colour than beef, with better flavour. Lamb also works really well with big Mediterranean flavours and spices. The key to this dish is to take a little extra time browning the meat in the pan on all sides. The more colour you get on the mince, the better the flavour will be.

While the meat is browning, I add all my flavours to the pan. Cumin and coriander spice along with garlic and chilli is a beautiful combination and I have been known to use the pre-chopped stuff in the jar to save time. Within 10 minutes, your stir fry is ready to go. At this point I’ll head to the fridge to add another layer of flavours: crumbled feta, sliced red onion, olives and torn mint and coriander add a sense of the Greek isles sunshine to our midweek, building the seasoning as we go.

With little time left, I turn to couscous to bulk up dinner. This simple grain is a great sponge for flavours, and cooks in under five minutes. The trick is to add some chicken stock cube, and saffron if you have it. Land it in the middle of the table and your work is done.

Next up is a simple steak dinner with a fancy name. Bois Boudran is a sauce credited to the Roux brothers – and a mistake if all accounts are to be believed. It takes two minutes to make and over-delivers in taste for the investment of time. The steak is cooked in the pan for a couple of minutes on both sides before moving to rest on a plate. The pan is then deglazed with a variety of store cupboard staples such as tomato ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce. The result is a tomato-based, savoury jam that is served alongside the steak. I’ve made a simple salad to work alongside, and a few skinny chips wouldn’t go amiss either.

Recipe: Stir fry spiced lamb with couscous, olives and mint

Recipe: Striploin steak with bois boudrin sauce and dressed Baby Gem