“Dinner to day, Cottage-Pye and rost Beef.”
Reverend James Woodford, 29 August 1791
Diary of a Country Parson
Now, English food often gets a bad press, which is a little unfair because, at its best, it would satisfy the fussiest gourmet. In the month ahead, I’ve decided to put up a few recipes from my home country, featuring our more hearty fare, which is so comforting for the dark damp days of October (and mosts days in the UK! )
I’ve chosen Cottage Pie (typically made with beef) as opposed to Shepherd’s Pie (typically made with lamb) since it is the older, original dish, the first citing of which is in the quote above. It’s easy to make but also nourishing; there’s a nursery feel to it. Indeed, I’ve made this for many children and they have all loved it too, despite the vegetables!
900g minced beef
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 carrot (150g), finely chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 level tablespoon flour
500 ml beef stock
2 level teaspoons of tomato purée
Salt and pepper to taste
One large frying pan
One large rectangular baking dish, 23cm x 32cm
First, peel the potatoes, cut them into halves and boil them in water for 25 minutes or until tender. Drain and mash with the butter; I like to use a potato ricer, but you could use a fork or a blender depending on your mood. Season to taste and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Now fry the onions in the oil on a medium heat until they become golden, then add the chopped carrot and cook for a further 5 minutes. Once cooked, reserve the vegetables and place the empty frying pan on a high heat. Add the meat, breaking it up to get it all browned. Season with a good pinch of salt and pepper, then add the cooked vegetables, cinnamon, thyme, parsley and flour. Add the stock in batches until it is all soaked in and add the tomato purée. Turn the heat right down and cook gently for about 20 minutes.
When the meat is ready, spoon it into the baking dish and level it out with the back of the spoon. After that, spread the mashed potato evenly all over; I like to make a pattern of lines using a fork. Pop the whole dish into the preheated oven and cook for about 25 minutes, or until the top has a lovely golden crust.
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Article by Farrah Gillani
Original image by Community Friend