How good can it be? Try it, especially on kids. I haven't met a kid who doesn't like cottage pie.
I didn't know until today that shepherd's pies have lamb or mutton as the meat filling while cottage pies have beef. Hmm, I've always called my ground beef mash pies shepherd's pies. There you go, something learnt.
I made half a dozen mini cottage pies along with the two jumbo pies for the Kg K kids and when E dropped by this afternoon, I gave her a couple to bring home. She just messaged to say that her hub and son loved the pies and she has to have the recipe, so I am happy to oblige since I am running low on materials to blog. I have the total opposite problem to Jo's. I can write and publish a post in 20 minutes but I don't have enough photos to support my ramblings. These days we've been getting afternoon thunderstorms (and mornings are so hot the sunlight sears) and there just isn't enough natural light to capture photos good enough to blog.
You can do the mash the night before to break up the steps and make work lighter. These pies freeze well too although in my house we never have enough left over to freeze. My mash are not super smooth because I don't have a ricer and my helper Vero uses a potato masher. Some people recommend the processor but that would make the mash sticky most of the time. Anyway, for cottage pies I prefer to have some lumps in the mash.
This recipe has been with me forever so I can't remember where it's from. It's the only cottage pie recipe I like. In fact, when I eat other cottage pies, I secretly feel pleased that they aren't as good as mine. Now you can secretly feel pleased too next time you eat somebody else's less-than -perfect cottage pie (as long as she doesn't read this blog too). E said most cottage pies have a ragu style filling with too much tomato puree whereas my pie filling tastes more like the beef steak pies. When something's so good you don't want to change it much except I've added parmesan and cheddar in place of butter and also mixed Italian herbs and more garlic to give it extra flavor. Here's the golden recipe.
1.5 kg old potatoes*
50 g tasty cheddar, grated
30 g parmesan cheese, grated
6-8 T milk or skimmed milk
salt and pepper to taste
* I like the potato layer to be 1 1/2 times the height of the meat layer for a more substantial meal but you can decrease this amount to 1 kg if you don't want such a thick layer. Make sure the meat layer is not too thin or nobody will like your pie.
1. Peel, cube and boil the potatoes until soft. Drain and mash while hot, adding the cheeses, milk, salt and pepper. I like my mash lightly salted to go with a saltier meat base but it's up to you. Add some butter if like.
The Meat Filling
700 g fresh lean ground beef
3 tomatoes, in thin slices (optional but recommended)
4 T tomato puree or 2 T tomato paste
1 big onion, diced finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
freshly ground black pepper (to your taste)
1-1 /2 t salt (to your taste)
1 t dried basil
1 t dried oregano/Italian mixed herbs
1 beef stock cube*
2 T ordinary flour
* My fav is Korean beef granules that come in 300 g and 500 g packs, with the picture of a large piece of uncooked steak on the packs. Very flavorful, better than Oxo and Maggi.
1. Preheat oven at 250 C.
2.Heat a pot up, add 1 T olive oil and fry the onion and garlic until soft (not brown) and add the beef. Fry the beef until the color has changed. Add the puree, basil, oregano or Italian mixed herbs, salt & pepper and flour, stirring all the time. Break the stock cube, taste and season if necessary.If your mash is not too salty, you can make the meat a little saltier. Add 1 1 /4 cup water, stirring well until all the water is absorbed.
3. Spoon beef mixture into an ovenproof dish of about 9" square (you can also use small individual foil pans), arrange the tomato slices over the meat and spread the mash on top. Drag a fork over to make a pattern. You can sprinkle a tablespoon of grated tasty cheddar or parmesan all over the mash too.
4. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until mash is crisped and browned here and there.