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Cottage Pie / Shepherds Pie

(Serves 6 -7 persons)


Cottage Pie and Shepherds Pie follow basically the same recipe. Years ago they were made from the left-overs from the Sunday dinner and these pies became a staple diet for the Monday dinner! Instead of using these left-overs you can use lean minced meat - Lamb or Beef. Shepherds Pie is made with Lamb and Cottage Pie is made with Beef.

This recipe can be made to fill two small casserole dishes, or one large casserole dish, or for dividing up into six or seven individual portions for freezing. (Or a mixture of both.)


Ingredients:

1.2Kg. (2 1/2lbs) Potatoes.

3 tablespoons of vegetable oil.

1 Kg. (2 1/4lbs) of lean mince, either Lamb or Beef.

2 large Onions, finely sliced and chopped small.

2 large carrots, grated into strips or chopped up as matchsticks, or sliced if you prefer.

For Lamb: 2 teaspoons of dried or fresh Rosemary.

For Beef: I sachet of Bouquet Garni (or English mixed herbs).

Optional extra: Garden peas - amount depending on your preference.

For the gravy (sauce):

1 pint tepid stock made from an OXO or similar beef cube.

3 heaped teaspoons of Bisto gravy powder.

3 heaped teaspoons of cornflour.

Salt and Pepper to taste.

Grated mature Cheddar cheese and breadcrumbs for the topping.

Chopped parsley or chopped coriander for the garnish.


Method:

Wash, peel, and cut the potatoes up into small cubes - they will cook quicker, but don’t let them cook into the water or go too soft. Add a little salt to the water for the potatoes. When cooked, add a good knob of Butter and a few dessertspoons of Milk, with Salt and Pepper to taste. Mash them all up so that there are no lumps anywhere! This should be quite a loose mash so as to allow the mash to be spread over the meat in the casserole dish or in the portion trays. If it is too thick add a little milk until it is at the required consistency.

Whilst the potatoes are cooking you can gently cook the lean mince in the vegetable oil, in a large pan or a wok, with the onions until the onions are soft and the mince has cooked - breaking up any lumps of meat against the side of the pan or wok.

Prepare the carrots, grated into strips or chopped up as matchsticks, or sliced if you prefer.

You can now prepare the gravy (sauce) by dissolving an OXO cube (or similar) into the pint of tepid water. The gravy powder and the cornflour can be mixed in a small cup with some cold water to make a loose paste before adding to the stock, mixing it all well together. Add in some salt and pepper to taste.

Into the pan of onions and meat add the stock, carrots, and the Rosemary for Lamb or the Bouquet Garni sachet (or mixed English herbs) for Beef.  (Add the garden peas at this stage if you have chosen them for this recipe.) Cook and stir for about 15 minutes whilst the potatoes are cooking. Continue to break up any large lumps of meat. Slowly the mixture will thicken as it cooks. If the mixture is too thick add a little water. If it is too runny mix a level teaspoon of cornflour in a cup with a little water to make a thin paste and then add to the mixture stirring continuously otherwise cornflour lumps will form. Finally, remove the Bouquet Garni sachet if used and discard it. Now is the time to bring the mashed potatoes and meat mixture together.

If using straight away place the meat mix into the two small casserole dishes, (or one large one), and gently and carefully spread the mashed potatoes over the meat using the back of a spoon to level it all out. Then gently run the back of a fork over the mashed potatoes to make ridges in lines down the dish. Sprinkle some grated mature Cheddar cheese over the potatoes and also sprinkle some breadcrumbs over the whole surface. Place in a pre-heated over at 120C or Gas No. 6 for about 15 minutes until the top is golden and crispy. Serve with any green vegetables, seasoned with salt and pepper and tossed in butter.

When serving you could further garnish the top with chopped parsley or coriander.

You could use only one small casserole dish for cooking in the oven to use straight away, and then divide the remainder into individual portions using foil trays or plastic trays for freezing. Set up the portion trays as above for the casserole dishes but do not cook them, leave them to go very cold before sealing and freezing. Foil trays can be defrosted and cooked in the oven, Plastic trays can be defrosted and cooked in the microwave.

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