Mince wi' yer tatties

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'“Yes, but can she cook mince?” A young Scotsman extolling the beauty and talents of his intended bride to his family was invariably asked this question. Mince is such an important dish in Scotland that it is virtually written into the wedding contract.’
Sue Lawrence, in her book, Scots Cooking, gets to the heart of Mince and Tatties, and provides a fine simple recipe, though she cooks her tatties separately from the mince, which is flavoured with marmite and a splash of Worcestershire sauce. Finding myself with a handful of minced beef, some mushrooms and some left-over tatties the other day, I borrowed an idea from Hoppy (or Simon Hopkinson as he is also known) and used the mushrooms in the mince mixture, and then finished the dish with an idea from Fergus Henderson's wonderful book, “Beyond Nose to Tail”, and stirred some Macroom oatmeal in after the mince and its mixture was half cooked. The result was curious – savoury minced beef, pieces of potato, shards of mushroom and the tender bite of the oatmeal – rich, and delicious, a winter dish for souls who have just gotten back from a long country hike. I realise that putting pieces of potato in the mix is positively sacriligeous, but I was lost to the established faiths a long time ago.