Today the focus is on mince, good Irish mince with the Bord Bia Quality Mark.

This cottage pie is one of the first meals that my mother, Vera, taught me and I have never tired of it. Sometimes I make the mince and sauce and serve it with pasta, or a bowl of rice instead. Or you could make it with lamb mince and it becomes Shepherd’s pie.

The Worcestershire sauce gives lovely depth of flavour throughout.

This is a very good-value meal and in these energy-conscious days it is a great recipe to make several batches of and freeze some.

I suspect there will be a big increase in batch cooking this winter and this meatballs recipe is also suitable.

It has an Asian twist to it and this recipe was given to me by my good friends at Bord Bia.

I think pork mince is an underused eat and it is very lean and moist. If you cannot get turkey mince you could use beef mince instead.

This sauce is also delicious with shredded cooked chicken.

Happy cooking


Cottage pie

Serves 4 – 6

1 tbsp rapeseed oil

450g (1lb) lean minced beef

2 smoked bacon rashers, rind removed and diced

1 onion, finely chopped

4 carrots, diced

2 celery sticks, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

300ml (½ pint) beef or chicken stock

1 tbsp tomato purée

1 tsp chopped fresh thyme

100g (4oz) frozen garden peas

1 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

For the cheesy mash:

900g (2lb) floury potatoes, such as Rooster or Maris Piper, peeled and cut into cubes

50g (2oz) mature cheddar cheese, grated

25g (1oz) butter

100ml (3½fl oz) milk

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Heat a large heavy-based pan and add the oil. Tip in the minced beef and smoked bacon and sauté for about five minutes, until browned all over, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon.

2 Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

3 Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic and cook for four to five minutes, stirring, until softened and just changing colour.

4 Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and the reserved minced beef mixture, then add the stock, tomato purée and thyme.

5 Mix well to combine, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until the mince is completely tender and cooked through.

6 Finally, stir in the peas and parsley and season to taste. Transfer to an ovenproof dish and leave to cool slightly for about 20 minutes.

7 Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/gas mark 4).

8 Meanwhile, gently steam the potatoes until tender.

9 Mash well, making sure there are no lumps. Beat in the Cheddar cheese, butter and milk and season to taste.

10 Gently spoon the cheesy mash on top of the mince, spreading it with a fork in an even manner.

11 Place the cottage pie in the oven for about 30 minutes, until the cheesy mash is golden brown.

12 Serve straight to the table for all the family to enjoy.

Fragrant meatballs in curry sauce

Serves 4

225g (8oz) lean minced pork

225g (8oz) lean minced turkey

50g (2oz) fresh white breadcrumbs

1 onion, very finely chopped

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tsp garam masala

5cm (2in) piece of root ginger, peeled and finely chopped

4 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

2 tbsp rapeseed oil

2 tbsp red Thai curry paste

200g (7oz) tinned or fresh tomatoes, chopped

1 x 250ml (9fl oz) carton of coconut cream

1 tbsp lemon juice

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

steamed fragrant Thai jasmine rice, to serve

\ Claire Nash (styled by Janine Kennedy

1 Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F/gas mark 7).

2 Place the minced pork and turkey in a bowl with the breadcrumbs, onion, chilli, egg, garam masala, half of the ginger and half of the coriander.

3 Season to taste and mix well to combine, then shape into 12 small balls approximately 2.5cm (1in) in diameter.

4 Put the meatballs in a large roasting tin, drizzle over half the oil and toss gently. Place in the oven for about 10 minutes, until lightly golden.

5 While the meatballs are cooking, make the sauce. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and add the curry paste and the remaining ginger.

6 Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly, then add the tomatoes and continue to cook for two to three minutes.

7 Add the coconut cream and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes.

8 Pour the sauce over the meatballs and quickly mix well to combine. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly.

9 Just before serving, stir in the lemon juice and arrange on plates with the rice.

10 Scatter over the rest of the coriander.