Our Apprentice LOVES potatoes. It is right up there with his favourites like plain yogurt, rice, multigrain bread, fish, chicken, cereal, tomatoes and only eclipsed by his all-time favourite, avocados. Because of him, potatoes make my weekly market list. And what’s not to love about potatoes when you are a toddler?
I remember eating copious amounts of potatoes as a kid. Mashed or smashed were my most treasured ways of enjoying this root vegetable. But me and my offspring aside, I think it is safe to say every child loves mashed potatoes- especially a nice buttery one.
We are constantly finding new ways to present potatoes to him and one particularly chillly evening, I came home and saw this on top of the stove. Initially I thought it was a mad polenta bake experiment. Man was I wrong!
I was famished, so while highly skeptical, I grabbed a spoon and sectioned out a piece on a small plate to taste.
“Is this a polenta experiment?” I asked Wynne, who takes care of our Apprentice at home while we are out working. I knew she had complained that the new brand of polenta I bought for the baby’s porridge was too coarse and best used for baking.
“Yes I was experimenting,” she smiled nervously. “You try it.”
And the rest is history! Literally, I had half of a nine inch dish by myself. I just could not stop! And then I remembered that I had a son, for whom this treat was intended and I finally put down my guilt-laden fork. Needless to say, she had to make it again so that I could actually take photographs. Here is the recipe that will soon become your family favourite…
1 kg peeled potatoes, cubed
2kg minced beef
150g peeled carrots, diced
130 onions, diced
20g peeled garlic, diced
1 medium tomato, diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
70g unsalted butter
A big handful of parsley leave, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 200C. Butter casserole or baking dish. Bring cubed potatoes to boil in a pot with water. Add salt to taste. Once soft, drain in a colander.
Transfer potatoes to a large bowl and mash with butter. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper a little at a time to taste. Set aside.
Saute onions, garlic, carrots, tomatoes then ad the beef, and tomato paste. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir frequently until beef is cooked. Add chopped parsley at end and toss for a minute and remove from heat.
Spread the beef evenly over the bottom of the baking dish. Dump the mashed potato on top and spread it evenly with an offset spatula or even the back of a spoon. If you feel up to it, make designs with a fork.
Grate a little parmesan cheese on top.
Bake for 30 minutes and then turn on the broiler (top heating element) for another 50-10 minutes to get some colour on the top. If you want a creamier top, instead of a nice crusty one, do not turn on the broiler. Once done, remove from oven and set on a trivet. Serve hot!