Well it seems like I’ve been absent for ages, so here I am to rectify that situation with a short tale of cottage pie. I do like a cottage pie, though I don’t remember ever having it at home so I don’t have a mum recipe to base mine on. Basically I just make mince and potatoes but layer and bake it instead of mashing it all together and putting it on a sandwich. If you’ve never had mince and potatoes on a sandwich, I heartily recommend it to you, but it has to be white bread. Mmmm…
So, to get back to cottage pie (which I did not put on a sandwich), here are a couple of photos and a basic recipe to feed 4 – 6, depending on hunger, greed and what you’re serving with it. I just went for some fresh peas, but would suggest a more substantial veg like roast parsnips or creamed cabbage. The G man and I each ate two servings of the cottage pie and then continued to nibble at it until it was sealed up and put in the fridge. Even then, we thought longingly of it… or at least, I did.
For the meat layer:
- one small onion, chopped
- half a 500g bag of ready diced carrot and swede
- 75g fresh peas
- 500g mince
- 1 beef stock cube
- 1 veg stock cube
- boiling water
For the potato layer:
- 3 large baking potatoes
- 1 or 2 tbsp milk
- 5 tbsp margarine
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- salt and pepper to taste
I sauteed the onions first until transparent, then added the mince, seasoned it, and cooked over a medium heat until browned. I added the diced carrot and swede, along with the peas, and mixed through; some of the ‘dice’ were a bit on the large side, like dice for people with giant hands maybe, so I cut those ones down a bit to make for more of a stew consistency than a ‘mince with lumps in’ consistency. Then I crumbled the stock cubes in, followed by an amount of water. A non-specific amount, of course; enough to make things a bit floaty in the pot but definitely not enough to cover the meat. I then let it gently simmer while I prepared and cooked the potatoes, about 30 minutes, by which time it was nicely thickened. It’s best to err on the side of not enough water if you’re not sure, you can always add in a bit more but having to wait for any excess to reduce down is a right pain.
The potatoes just got peeled and chopped, then put into salted, boiling water to cook until very soft, about 20 minutes. Usually I like to leave potatoes in the pot until they’re practically already mashed, but in this instance I chose to do some of the work myself. After the 20 minutes at a good rolling boil, I drained the spuds and mashed them up with the milk and butter, then seasoned with the nutmeg, salt and pepper.
I poured the mince into the bottom of a square baking dish, then spooned the mashed spuds on top and levelled off with a spatula. I got amongst it with the back of a fork, then, to give that traditional ‘I’ve run a fork over the top of this you know’ look to the pie. I baked it at 220C for 15 minutes, until the top was browned, then served with a meagre amount of peas. Next time, roast parsnips, definitely.
I wouldn’t say that these are the finest photos I’ve ever taken, or that the humble cottage pie is great and attractive cuisine in the first place, but when it’s March and you’re still getting horizontal rain and snow flurries, you need good old fashioned stodge and comfort food. I am indebted to @cooksisterblog for giving me the inspiration to make this particular meal, and also for continuing to blog even during tough times. I didn’t follow her recipe, but the lovely photo she posted was enough to send me running to the shops for mince. Er… in a good way…