January 24, 2021

HERITAGE RECIPE: Viola's One Course Meal

As promised, I chose a more obscure recipe to try this week from my heritage cookbooks. I wanted to pick something that seemed like it came mostly from memory--"a little of this and that"--and follow it as closely as I could interpret.

This recipe appealed to me because it said that it was from the handwritten recipe file of Edna Crispin. Since she called it "Viola's One Course Meal", and as I interpreted from the directions, I'm assuming it was her friend's or family member's recipe. I couldn't help smiling when I read it because of the way it was written--very cute!

This is definitely NOT a "pretty" meal, and it's kind of embarrassing to even post a photo of the finished product. ;)  However, a lot of times the best food is food that doesn't look pretty on a plate.

I followed this as-written, which is not very specific. I'll write out my interpretation below the one that was in the cookbook. Make sure you read my notes as well, because there are a few things I'd change if I make it again. I'll add some extra photos below the notes. (I always hate when I'm looking for a recipe and I have to scroll through a thousand pictures to get to the recipe itself.)

Here is a printer-friendly version of the recipe!

Ingredients (*see notes after recipe):

4 small potatoes, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
1-2 carrots, sliced
1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 (15 oz) can of peas (do not drain)
1 (4 oz) can of mushrooms (do not drain)
2 Tbsp. butter
salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine the beef, pork, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper. Press a piece of foil along the bottom and sides of a 13x9 dish. Place the meat mixture on the foil and spread it out, pressing the meat down along the bottom until well-formed to the foil/dish. Then carefully lift out the foil with the beef and set it aside. In the 13x9 dish, lay out the potato slices, then the onions, and then the carrots.

Carefully remove the beef form from the foil and place it on top of the carrot layer. Then pour the peas and mushrooms over the top, including their liquid. Cut the butter into small pieces and dot around the top.

Cover the dish with foil and bake at 350 F for 60 minutes.*


*The order of the layers wasn't clear to me, but from what I understood, it sounded like the potatoes, onions, and carrots were first, and then the beef on top of that--that way the juices from the meat will flavor the veggies underneath. (see photos below)

*I had to guess on the amounts of each ingredient and I was pretty much spot-on when it came to layering in the 13x9 dish. I did not peel the potatoes--just washed them well.

*If I make this again, I'd use 1-1/2 pounds ground beef (minimum 15% fat; I used 90/10 and it was too dry). I would also add something moist to the meat mixture--maybe an egg and a little milk?--to make the texture more like meatloaf. As I made it, it had the texture of a hamburger, which I think was too firm.

*I didn't see any cans of peas and mushrooms together at the store (I wasn't sure if she meant separate cans or that they came in one can) so I just used one can of peas and one can of mushrooms.

*The cooking time wasn't long enough for the size of my vegetables. The onions and carrots were still a little firm. So, I would either cut the slices thinner or bake longer, or both.

Here are some photos:

Here is how I pressed out the beef/pork layer--once it was formed in there, I gently lifted it out and set it on a piece of foil while I put the other layers in. (I should have just put the foil in the pan first, and then it would be easy to lift out!)

Layer of potatoes:

Followed by a layer of onions:

Followed by a layer of carrots:

Place the beef layer on top of those...

Then add the peas and mushrooms with their juice, and dot with butter.

This was an interesting recipe, and kind of fun to interpret! I wasn't crazy about it for the simple fact that the texture of the beef layer was too firm and the veggies weren't cooked soft enough. I would definitely make this again--I would just make the beef layer a little more like meatloaf and I'd bake it a little longer. I don't think I'd include the liquid from the peas and carrots, either.

Jerry loved this and said it reminded him of the inside of a pastie (an upper Michigan favorite--he grew up in Petoskey and developed a love for pasties).


  1. It sounds like a riff on Shepherds pie without the mashed potatoes. I would add frozen peas instead of canned. And fresh sauted mushrooms. Lots more flavor and the color would be more appetizing. The flavors seem like they would be good....

  2. I was thinking as I was reading this is sounds very pastie like! I'm intrigued, I might try this but make it with a few of your notes. I love meatloaf so I think this would be a fun interpretation of that! I'm loving this series!

  3. I would cook the vegetables and meat first then add the tinned things, grate cheddar over and grill till cheese melts nicely


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