I grew up with tatties and mince. It was not my favourite meal because it was accompanied by heaps of grey, watery, mashed neeps. This is probably one of the few in my Scottish heritage that I don’t get – neeps (turnips, for the uninitiated….) So, cottage pie (and no, I”m not going to entertain the discussion about the difference between this and Shepherd’s pie….) is my version of Tatties & Neeps.
My mince is made with braised onions and herbs – either rosemary or thyme – not both, and the choice depends on the mood, as well as, of course, a crushed glove of garlic. I also add grated carrot and courgette if I have a lot of them (also a great way to con those with a vegetable aversion…), and let this all cook for quite a long time. You may need to add a bit of water and towards the end of the cook, I add a good glug of red wine. Gives it a lovely rich flavour. The topping is not just mashed potato: I usually mix it with butternut and add a good dollop of yoghurt. Dot this with knobs of butter and cook in the oven until it’s golden brown and beginning to crisp on top! I will, in future always make this with a friend in mind.
The last time I made this, she was ill, and it was intended to give her a little “hupstoot” after her second last chemo. At the time, the focus was on getting to the end of the series of treatments, never thinking that a tiny insect might try to do what the cancer hadn’t succeeded in doing.
Well, that insect didn’t succeed, either. She has a long road to go; she is a remarkable and strong woman, and I look forward to a time when she is stong enough we can share a good laugh (a) glass(es) of wine again……soon…..