Mince With Champit Tatties and Bashed Neeps (and Spam)
Mince 'n Tatties is the Scottish fallback dish. I've since discovered that it is also almost universally loved by small children. It is on the table in 30 minutes without breaking a sweat, doesn't take well to tarting-up, and it doesn't need teeth to eat. It's one of those genetic dishes that are rarely written down. In Scotland, neeps are large turnips with orange flesh, but the closest (and best) flavour in the US are the small white and purple ones.
1 lb 80% ground beef (no leaner than that)
1 big onion
2 lb tatties (any kind of potato that mashes well)
1/2 lb white/purple neeps
Butter (yes, I know...)
Your favourite gravy mix, though Bisto! is traditional.
If you want it authentic, peel the tatties, but if you'd rather taste them, just scrub thoroughly. Cut up large. Peel the neeps, cut slightly smaller than the tatties so they all get done at the same time, and boil with the tatties, ~20 minutes while you prepare everything else. Drain and separate neeps from tatties. Champ (mash) the tatties with lots of butter, cream, and salt. Bash (like mashing, but you want some texture left) the neeps with lots of butter, salt and pepper, no cream. If you get lazy and just mash the tatties and neeps together, nobody will complain.
Scrub the unpeeled carrot and cut into 1" lumps. If you don't have bacon fat, cut up a couple rashers of bacon, fry the fat out of them, and leave them in there (or just use that universal answer to everything, butter). Soften the onions and carrot without browning them. Raise the heat, add the beef, and break up clumps as it browns. Mix up enough gravy mix with enough water, and add in, stirring until it thickens: what you are aiming for is the consistency of a sloppy Joe, which this might well be an ancestor of.
At some point, boil the frozen peas in a little water, drain, and add (lots of) butter. For a spectacular upgrade, put them in one of those new Ziplock microwave steaming bags with butter and a little salt, and follow the instructions on the bag. The neeps also take well to that treatment: slice and bag with butter and salt, and zap instead of boiling.
Serve in the traditional Scottish manner, where the tatties are thwupped onto the plate with a large spoon, and the mince, neeps and peas are added around the edges. If it doesn't look like the dog's dinner, you've done something wrong.
Any decent cook can cut out half of the above fat without killing the recipe.
The Japanese Soul-food version (and I can barely believe the Scots haven't thought of this, since they deep-fry things like pizza and Mars Bars) is "Potato Korokke," which is Japanglish for Potato Croquette: Mash all the above together, form into croquettes, dip in beaten egg followed by panko, and deep-fry until golden.
And the Spam? It wouldn't do any harm. The recipe doesn't call for it, but Monty Python sometimes just leaks through...