Maternally Warm Comfort Food or Mince? Seriously? Mince?

As the temperature no longer borders on sweltering and the pumpkins sold become sunset orange instead of sickly peach, recipes for maternally warm comfort food bubble away in my mind, especially as I do the the regular grocery shop. Inspired by the season and the recent holiday I have been trying out a variety of new recipes and experimenting with more traditional ones. Enjoy. see also : Brussel Sprout Salad recipe

I have never made ossobuco so it was with anticipation that I picked up the osso buco, knowing that, being on holidays, I would not only have the time to ‘have a play’ but to enjoy of the smell wafting through my house for a good few hours.

Ossobuco recipe

As I didn’t have any polenta at the time (which is traditional), I served it with buttered fetticine. It was only afterwards that I realised what a pleasant mistake this was – the butteriness of the noodles really added an extra richness to the ossobuco. Next time if I don’t have polenta, I will purposefully add a knob of butter to the sauce at the end!

Layered Shepherd’s Pie
Almost every evening as twilight appears my husband and I have the following conversation:
“Hi love, how are you?” He responds, “Okay.”  I ask, “Got any ideas for dinner?” “I dunno…”  Frustrated, I demand “C’mon! I need some ideas!?” Absently, he responds, “I don’t have any ideas – you decide!” “No, you decide.” “I’ve gotta go”, he states. “Fine.”

On this particular evening my husband said he felt like mince. Mince. I mean really….who chooses to have mince? Maybe it’s a ‘boy’ thing but to me, mince conjures images of greasy, tasteless school camp savory mince (of course with the leftovers from last night’s meal, regardless as to what they were…. “Why is there a whole egg in my mince? And what is this?!”) It’s ludicrous that they think they can serve that for breakfast and get away with it! But he likes mince and as they say, there’s no accounting for taste. So, here’s my spin on shepherd’s pie with more taste, less grease, greater nutritional content… and mince.


  • Approx. 6 large potatoes depending on the size of your baking dish
  • 1/2 medium sweet potato
  • 1 large wedge (approximate 1/8 of a whole) of a pumpkin
  • 1/3 head broccoli, thinly sliced (you could substitute peas)
  • 2 medium ears of corn, shucked
  • 2 handfuls mushrooms
  • ~500g mince
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 dessertspoon mustard
  • 2 splashes worstershire suace
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon barbeque sauce
  • 1 cup chicken or beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • oil
  • salt and pepper
  • handful of cheese

Boil potatoes in salted water until just over cooked. Once done, drain, take off heat, replace potatoes in pan and cover with lid. Set aside.

Thinly slice sweet potato and pumpkin. Place on an oiled, lightly salted tray. Sprinkle salt on top and spray with oil. Put under a hot grill for 5-10mins depending on your grill. They should just start to get brown on top and should be cooked through. If it is browning too quickly (before cooked through) turn.

Boil/steam broccoli and corn until just cooked. Drain and set aside.

Dice onion and garlic finely. Add oil to a medium/hot pan and saute onions, garlic, cinnamon and paprika until soft and starting to caramelise. Add mince and brown. If there is excess oil, drain nearly all the oil from the pan. Add flour and mix in – watch that this doesn’t burn but does cook out.

Clean and cut up mushrooms.

Deglaze with stock, add Worcestershire, tomato paste, barbecue sauce and mustard. Mix well and make sure there is enough stock so that the mince doesn’t dry out. Remember it will get thicker and reduce the stock. Cook for about 5 mins until thick. Season to taste.

Preheat oven at around 200 – 220 degrees Celsius.

Mash potatoes as you would usually (use the same pan so you save on washing up!). I usually add butter, milk and any other appropriate dairy substance I have in the fridge (e.g. today I used marscapone. Sour cream works well too). Season to taste.

Spray a baking dish with oil. Layer some of the mushrooms thinly on the bottom. Add a layer using half the mince. Layer pumpkin and sweet potato together. Cover again with the rest of the mushrooms. Cover with the rest of the mince. Put the broccilli and corn on top.

Finally, top with the mashed potato – make sure none of the top layer is ‘peeking’ through. Run the prongs of a fork over the top (it makes indents which gives you a nice crispy top) and sprinkle on cheese.

Put in the oven and bake for approximately 20 mins or until starting to brown on top. see also : Homemade Pumpkin Soup Recipe

Tags: #Layered Shepherd's Pie #Layered Shepherd's Pie recipe #Ossobuco

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