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Three random things I learned, or remembered, today

Mince and potatoes




This is a recipe for Scots all over the world who are homesick for their mother’s or granny’s “Mince and Tatties”

Every Scottish mother’s mince and tatties tasted differently because of little variations.

My mother made the best mince and tatties in the world. Truly. Mine is something like it but does not always turn out as good.

I never measure anything very much when I’m cooking, but this will give you a bit of an idea. Eventually, your mince and tatties will taste like yours and yours alone. And you will like yours best of all. So persevere.



1 lb mince – only use the very best quality minced rump steak. Or mince your own after removing fat.
2 small onions (vary amount according to taste).
2 medium carrots (vary amount according to taste).
1 medium purple turnip when in season (vary amount according to taste). If these early small purple turnips are not available, omit or add a few slices of swede turnip. ( The term swede in Scotland refers to the large turnips which are yellow inside).

Gravy thickening – “Bisto” – see below.


“Bisto” has always been used in our family. Nothing else, because nothing else tastes the same. (If you can’t get “Bisto” outside the UK, ask Santa Claus to send you a years supply every Christmas.)

The amount of “Bisto” you add depends on how thick you like your mince. You’ll need to experiment.

Make up the “Bisto” once the mince is cooked.

Try 3 teaspoons of “Bisto” first. If you like the mince thicker add more, thinner add less the next time.

Don’t add the “Bisto” straight to the mince! Put the spoonfuls in a cup. Gradually mix it into a paste with cold water and add more water until it just reaches pouring consistency.

When the mince is completely cooked, take it off the cooker and prepare your “Bisto.” as above. Add the “Bisto” solution STIRRING it gently but continuously into the mince OFF the heat. If you don’t do it this way the the “Bisto” will form horrible jelly like lumps and the whole thing will be ruined.

N.B. Don’t use the modern “Bisto” granules. Stick to the old fashioned “Bisto” powder.


In may family, there has always been someone who doesn’t like onions, but likes the flavour. If you are cooking mince and tatties for one of these pests, then don’t use an onion powder substitute. And don’t omit the onion. It will not be the same. Instead put two small onions in whole, and remove them at the end. Serve the offending person first, chop up the cooked onion and put it back into the mince for everyone else.

Doing it this way also prevents you from weeping!

So, with that taken care of you’re ready to start!

1. Braise the minced meat in a pot breaking it up with a wooden spoon to prevent lumps forming.
2 Once the meat is well browned, add the water hot or cold – it doesn’t matter. Add enough to cover. Give it a stir.
3. Put in the onion whole or cut up into whatever size you prefer.
4. Cut up carrots and turnip to your preferred shape and size.
5. Bring the pot to the boil, put lid on and turn down to a simmer.
6. Simmer for 30 minutes or so until vegetables are soft and meat thoroughly cooked.
7. Take off the heat and add the “Bisto.” See above.
8. Return to a low heat to thicken.

Additional salt is usually not necessary with Bisto.

You might want to add pepper to taste but we never did.


In summer mince was always served with tiny new Ayrshire potatoes (believe me, no matter what people say, you can’t get the true “Ayrshires” any more)

In winter the big older potatoes were always mashed smoothly with “the top of the milk” and a little butter.

Enjoy and experiment until you make your own signature mince and potatoes.

P.S You could not even begin to imagine how much I yearn for real new baby Ayrshire potatoes! A generation of young scots have never tasted them and have no idea what they are missing. I BLAME THE SUPERMARKETS FOR THIS TRAVESTY!!!!

© Bloomoon711 |


1 Comment»

  rowan wrote @

Ah, this is what I’ve been looking for to send to a friend in the US! A REAL recipe for mince and tatties. And written with style! I am so glad you appreciate the intricacies of the Bisto issue, and are not throwing in oatmeal and garlic. (Shiver.) They are fine in their place, but it is not in mince and tatties.

Just to let you know, Nick Nairn writes that the “tatties” ought to be sweet potatoes. Waaa! Again, nice in their place, but not in mince and tatties. They are not baby Ayrshires….

Will come by and read your other posts!

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