13 March 2012

Cottage Pie...

...I know, I know...not a new or even radical recipe, but a much loved, sometimes much maligned recipe...some say it's boring, but here in our house, we say it's fab!! Cottage Pie reminds me of my childhood...It is the meal I am most likely to cook after a week or weekend of excess...it is one of those unassuming, unpretentious, comfort food recipes...It is one of those recipes that every family knows and has their version of...and this is mine...via my Mum of course!!!
So on to the recipe...

Serves: 2 adults and 2 children twice in our house...
Time: prep - 10mins cooking - 1 hour
Ingredients...they can and do change depending on what I have (or rather what I've forgotten to buy!!)...
*500g minced beef - I use extra lean, and have made this a shepherds pie by using lamb mince instead.
*1 large onion - chopped
*2 carrots - diced or grated
*1 large courgette - or 2 small - diced or grated
*about 1/3 of a large swede - diced or grated
*enough beef stock to cover the mince/veggie mix in the pan you use!
*salt and pepper to taste
*enough cooked mashed potato to cover the pie/pies...(you'll see what I mean later on!)
*grated cheese - optional topping extra
*Bisto gravy thickening...(yup you can get a gorgeous gravy from this recipe too)
Mince really isn't the most attractive thing to cook...but it has a million and one uses (I'm estimating!!)
*Prepare all the veg - lots of chopping and either dicing or grating depending on which way you chose to go..last night I diced!
*Brown the mince in a large pan (that has a lid), make sure you break it up into small pieces as it browns. Should take about 5 mins...
*Add the chopped onion and stir, cover and cook on a low-med heat for about 5 minutes until starting to soften.
*Throw in all the rest of your veggies, stir it up and add enough beef stock to cover the meat and veg mix.
*Bring to the boil, turn down, pop the lid on and turn down to low, slow simmer for 20-30 mins.
Meanwhile....make your mashed potato and leave it to one side until needed...
This recipe gives you enough for two family meals (if you are a 2+2 family like ours that is!!)
*Once the meat/veggie mix is cooked, taste and season...then you need to drain it AND KEEP THE STOCK....this will become your gravy!!
*put the meat/veggie mix into the dish you will be cooking it in...as you can see, I use one large casserole dish for that night's dinner plus two small individual ones for the smallish people to have at a later date! (Yes that's right, it's a make one freeze one kinda thing!)
Ahhh...pretty patterns...not compulsory!!!
*Top your pies with that lovely mash you made earlier...No fancy piping last night!! Just good old rustic fare!! (Ok, so I did do some swirly patterns using a fork!!)
*Put the pie on a pre-heated baking try in a pre-heated oven, Gas 6-7/200c for about 30mins (but check it, you may want yours browned a bit more...just make sure it is hot all the way through). I actually take mine out after about 15mins and add some grated cheese to the top...the reason I add it now and not earlier, is that we don't like our cheese too browned (fussy lot aren't we?!?).
Make sure they are cold before bagging - you don't want sweaty cottage pies!!!
*The two for later went into airtight bags once cold, and into the freezer for another day...minus cheese - it's best to add once defrosted...(to cook these, just defrost thoroughly and cook as the main recipe...topping with some grated cheese if it takes your fancy!)
This is one of the nicest gravies I know...full of the goodness from all those veggies in the mix.
*To make my gravy I reheat the saved meat/veggie juices and add some Bisto gravy thickening powder...you could also add cornflour and gravy browning, but not sure it would taste as good...(I was brought up with this gravy method...I'm bound to be loyal to it!!) I also add some of the water from any veggies that I cook to serve with this - last night I microwaved then mashed the remaining swede and added some of that water...it just makes the gravy really tasty...
See, the cheese is browned just enough for us, but feel free to cook longer if you want!!
*Once cooked it should be pipping hot all the way through, and lovely and golden on top...time to serve...
The perfect plate of comforting comfort food...well to me it is...
As I said earlier, I often add a couple of side veggies to go with this (even though the two smallish people prefer it as is, in a pasta bowl with gravy all over the top!! Which I don't mind so much as there are quite a few veggies in it already!)...last night it was the remaining swede, mashed with plenty of black pepper and butter...Mmmm mmmm mmm...plus some lovely brussel sprouts...(yes that's right, I'm a sprout lover!!)...although my over top veggie supporting acts for this meal would have to be cabbage and cauliflower...both simply boiled - but not to death!! Nothing worse than soggy veg!!!

So there it is in all it's glory, not only a good old fashioned family favourite, but hidden veg in there for the kiddies too!!!! With no added 'tweaks' today...sometimes the old ways really are the best ways...

Enjoy xx


  1. Great meal makes an excellent and satisfying dinner. Well done you!

  2. Thanks Alida,

    Sometimes the older, simpler recipes are the best...the ones past along and down through families...



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