So, it's been a while, I know. I've had a spot of bloggers block, and although I've been cooking the same as usual, nothing really grabbed me enough to share it with you. So forgive the silence, but it's better than boring food, right? I haven't even been to any really interesting restaurants, so I can't even share that! (Blame that on post-wedding brokeness.. Anyone want to sponsor me a dinner at La Mouette? I'm desperate to try their Spring tasting menu!!)
Anyway, on a less begging note, I was sitting at home yesterday with limited time and limited resources. I had some frozen beef mince, some potatoes and some random veggies in the fridge. My initial thought was to make spaghetti bolognaise (my old standby, I can make it with my eyes closed!). But I thought I'd make my new hubby something new - and when I say new, I mean old-favourite-but-new-to-me. And with the potatoes, my version of Cottage Pie was born!
I'd always worried about the difference between Cottage and Shepherds Pie's, and I was never sure which was which. A short search this morning revealed what (should have been) obvious: shepherds herd sheep - hence a lamb-based pie. Anything with beef and mashed potato in pie form, is therefore a Cottage Pie. There we go, today's conundrum SOLVED! Yay for google.
Also, my sister (who I lived with until March) has issues with the mince-and-mashed-potatoes thing - there's something about it that bothers her. So although I love it, I've never actually made a Cottage Pie. So I kept it simple - a bolognaise sauce, kept slightly drier (as it doesn't have to coat the spaghetti), delicious mashed potatoes, and cheese. Lots of cheese..
Cheesy Cottage Pie
3-4 potatoes, peeled and chopped
500g beef mince
1 can tomato and onion mix or chopped tomatoes
1 onion, sliced
1 tin tomato paste
2 carrots, diced
200ml frozen peas
Grated cheese (enough to make the mash cheesy and to put on top)
1 tsp origanum (I use dried, my herbs aren't looking good after winter)
1 tsp mixed Italian herbs
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced (or 2 tsp bottled garlic)
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp chutney
1 bay leaf
water, in case it gets too dry (or stock, or cooking water. I parboiled the carrots in the microwave, and used that water)
- Peel and chop your potatoes, and boil them in salty water until cooked.
- Heat a largeish pot with a little bit of oil in it, and brown the mince, until there is no pink left, breaking up large pieces with a spoon.
- Add the can of tomato and onion mix when the meat is browned, turn down the meat, and allow to simmer
- Slice, and fry the onion in a separate pan, until translucent. Add the garlic towards the end, and fry until fragrant.
- While the onion and mince are cooking, dice your carrots, and boil them in the microwave for about 5 minutes. You want them just on the slightly undercooked side, so that they finish in the pot with the mince.
- When the carrots are finished, strain, reserving the water. Add to the pan with the onions, and stir around.
- When the onion mix is cooked, add it to the pot with the mince, and stir it in.
- Add all the herbs to the pot, and stir in. Keep the mince simmering, but don't let it burn.
- By now your potatoes are probably cooked. Drain, and leave to cool for a minute.
- Preheat the grill.
- Mash the potatoes, with a little butter, salt and cheese. Mash to desired consistency.
- Take the mince off the stove, and pour into a deep (I think mine was about 10cm deep) baking dish, leaving enough space at the top for the potato layer.
- Spoon the mashed potatoes in, a little at a time, spreading carefully with the back of a spoon, to cover the mince
- Spread a layer of cheese over the top.
- Pop into the preheated oven, right under the grill and watch it like a hawk so that the cheese melts, but doesn't burn. I think mine took about 5 minutes. (It was all freshly made, so it didn't need to heat through.)
Serve with some steamed broccoli, other veggies, a salad, or just on its own for some lovely, end-of-winter happiness! My boy loved it (he licked his plate, and went back for seconds, and licked the serving spoon with gusto!) And if I can do that whole thing while talking on the phone for an hour, you can do it too!
Enjoy, my lovelies!