My mother was the family cook when I was growing up, which was great for all of us as she is brilliant in the kitchen. I do remember the annual burnt toast Mother’s Day breakfast my Dad and I would prepare to bring to her on a tray in bed, and the weekend grilling. But he pretty much steered clear of the kitchen.
Until retirement. Once my Dad had some time on his hands he developed a small but reliable repertoire—BLTs (made with Marie’s Blue Cheese Dressing instead of mayo), cheese quesadillas, milkshakes, and this Scottish mince.
I adore it because he made it for us and because it’s delicious and so cozy—better in my opinion than Shepherd’s Pie but with that Anglo winter food vibe. And Scotland = sheep and knitting to me.
There are many versions of this classic family dish of the Highlands. Every version I’ve read contains a small amount of Scottish pinhead oatmeal—the magic ingredient that gives the finished dish a suave richness. There is no substitute, and it must be pinhead as stone ground oatmeal is too coarse. My Dad’s version also contains mushroom ketchup. It is worth seeking out, but beef bouillon will do well as a substitute.
If Scottish food interests you, I highly recommend Broths To Bannocks by Catherine Brown. It is full of history and good recipes that work well. It would be a good primer to a trip to a wool festival in Scotland. I hear they have those there.
2 lbs ground beef, lamb or meat substitute such as Impossible Burger
¼ cup mushroom ketchup or 2 T beef bouillion such as Better Than Bouillion or 1 bouillion cube
2 celery ribs, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 medium onion, minced
¼ cup pinhead oatmeal
2 T vegetable oil
- In a large skillet or sauté pan heat the oil over medium heat then add onion and saute until soft and lightly colored.
- Add celery and carrots and sauté until soft, about 5 mins.
- Add the meat, raise the heat and sauté until browned, stirring frequently.
- Add the oatmeal and stir to mix evenly.
- Add the mushroom ketchup (or bouillon) and water to just cover the meat.
- Adjust heat to a gentle simmer and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until water is absorbed and reduced and all is harmonious.
- Serve with mashed potatoes and a side of something green. Serves 6–8
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