Scottish mince and tatties, ground meat with root vegetables, herbs and spices, alongside creamy mashed potatoes. It’s easy to make, versatile and satisfying. Any ground meat will work here, but I used venison.
Mince and tatties is part of a grand, worldwide tradition of ground meat, vegetables and spices, served with a starch alongside.
Arguably Scotland’s national dish, alongside Haggis and a good Scotch broth, mince and tatties hinges on what the ground meat is cooked with. I’ve seen and eaten it as sad cafeteria food and as elevated as a white linen entrée.
This recipe lies somewhere in between. I do use a variety of flavorings you’ll see in a British larder, as well as diced carrots and rutabagas, plus some dark beer.
My recipe is inspired by one in a great new book The British Cookbook by Ben Mervis. I highly recommend this book if you are interested in the foods of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The traditional recipe calls for ground beef and beef broth, which are of course fine, but I prefer venison and venison broth. You could make this with lamb, mutton, bison, even dark meat turkey if you wanted to.
Basically the idea behind mince and tatties is to brown onions and meat, then make a loose gravy to cook the diced vegetables, and let this all cook down into a proper gravy that is lovely alongside mashed potatoes, thus the “tatties.”
If you should have leftover mince and tatties, I highly recommend you use it as a filling for Cornish pasties or Scottish bridies, which are fairly similar. And while not traditional, it is amazing as a filling for the bread dough-based Finnish meat pies called lihapiirakka.
You can also freeze mince and tatties, and you can pressure can it as if it were beef stew.
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Mince and Tatties
- 3 tablespoons bacon fat, beef drippings, butter or oil
- 1 large yellow onion, minced
- 1 1/2 pounds ground venison, beef, lamb or turkey
- 2 tablespoons oat flour, or regular flour
- 1 rutabaga, peeled and diced
- 1 large, fat carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups porter or other dark, malty beer
- 2 cups venison or beef stock
- A few dashes of Maggi seasoning (optional)
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 pounds yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper (optional)
- Heat the bacon fat or other cooking oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Sauté the onions until they are nicely browned, about 6 minutes. Stir in the ground meat, salt everything, and brown the meat well, which should take another 6 to 10 minutes. This stage is important, as the browning adds a ton of flavor to the finished dish.
- Sprinkle the oat flour (or regular flour) over everything and mix well. Let this cook a minute or two, then add the remaining ingredients, stirring well. Bring this to a rolling boil, then drop the heat to a simmer and let this cook down into a nice gravy. This usually takes about 15 to 20 minutes.
- When the onions and meat are cooking, put the potatoes in a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Add a good pinch of salt, and simmer until tender.
- Drain the potatoes, then return them to the pot. Drop the heat to low. Let the potatoes steam out for about 30 seconds, then add the butter and mash well. Keep mashing while adding the cream. Mix in the white pepper, if using, and salt if it needs it.