Passionate foxhunters appreciate the thrill of the hounds at work and, as importantly, the sport’s centuries’ old tradition and pageantry.  Food is of course, a part of the tradition.

When I was a child, nothing was more important on our refrigerator door than the fixture card for the hunt. I remember its heavy stock with a crimson fox mask staring at me seductively. My father, resplendent in his pinks, and I would load up his hunt horse and my incorrigible pony into the van and head out. After a challenging day, usually spent arguing with said pony over remaining in the junior field, we would head home with frozen fingers and toes. After tending to the horses with a warm mash, we headed to the house with appetites that only a great day in the field can produce.

One memorable meal came from a Scottish family friend. Mince & Tatties, as the dish is known in Scotland, is a humble, yet gorgeous potato-crusted pie dating back to the 1700s. It was likely created by frugal housewives looking for different ways to serve leftover meat to their families on the British Isles and throughout Ireland. Mince & Tatties, or Shepherd’s Pie as it is known in England, originated in the north of England and Scotland where there are large numbers of sheep.

I have tweaked it a bit to make it guest friendly. It can be part of a buffet or done in individual ramekins for portability. It is very satisfying, warming and delicious – any time.  Happy Hunting!

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon rosemary, chopped fine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 pound each lean ground beef and lamb
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup beef stock
1 1/2 cups frozen petite peas, unthawed
Cheesy Mashed Potatoes, recipe follows
Mashed Potatoes
4 pounds Russett baking potatoes, peeled and quartered4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated mature white Cheddar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven at 400 degrees F.

Add butter and oil to a large skillet on medium heat. Saute onions, carrots, celery and garlic until tender for about 7 to 10 minutes. Add herbs. Once the vegetables have softened and start to brown a little add the tomato paste and mix evenly. Add the meat and cook until no longer pink about 10 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce and beef stock. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook and simmer for another 10 minutes. Mix in peas.  Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Transfer meat mixture with a slotted spoon to remove excess fat to an oven-proof baking dish and spread evenly. Place potato on top of meat mixture and spread out evenly Once the top surface has been covered, rake through with a fork so there are peaks that will brown nicely. Place the dish into the preheated oven and cook until browned about 20 minutes. Spoon out and serve.

Fill a large saucepan with cold water and a tablespoon of salt. Add potatoes to the water and bring to a boil. Let potatoes cook until soft about 20 minutes. Once the potatoes are at a desired density, drain the potatoes and place them back into the saucepan for mashing. Add butter and cream and begin to mash potatoes into a semi smooth consistency. Once at desired texture add cheese and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.

PAIRS WELL WITH MERLOT.

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