Ok, so pimped up is really just trying to make this sound a little bit special. In fact there are just a few subtle additions to the traditional recipe, notably herbs in the mash and cheese on the top, plus plenty of wine in the meat and fresh thyme for depth of flavour.
I must admit I am not a fan of my homeland food, I rarely cook anything you could call traditionally British and I wouldn’t even buy a pasty or a pie out. When you realise you can make a fantastic, flavour-packed dish in 20 minutes using some simple Chinese and Thai ingredients it is hard to force yourself to whip up a fatty Yorkshire pudding batter for toad-in-the-hole or tackle pastry for a big meat pie.
Equally with pasta so goddamn easy to throw together on weekdays why make stew and dumplings…..I could go on. Having said all that, on some cold, dark nights there is really nothing that can make you feel as comforted as a meal that includes piles of creamy mashed potato, or rich meat and warm gravy. You’ve got to give it to us Brits – we do stodgy food down to a tee.
This Cottage Pie is one of those very meals I speak of and with winter still upon us it is the perfect time to cook it. There is no reason why you should try and reduce the size of this to feed two people, it just isn’t worth the hassle. If you are going to go to the bother of cooking this you may as well have enough to freeze for another occasion, so I recommend cooking this 4 person dish.
Pimped up Cottage Pie
1 onion, finely chopped
2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
2 carrots grated
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
4/6 mushrooms, cubed up
500g beef mince
1tbsp tomato puree
1 large glass of red wine
1x 400g can of chopped tomatoes
200ml beef stock
800g – 1kg potato, peeled and cut into large chunks
Fresh herbs (basil, chives and parsley) finely chopped
Two handfuls of grated cheddar cheese
1. Gently fry the onion, celery and carrots in a deep frying pan that has a lid for 10 minutes until softened (I find it helps to put a lid on to create steam to soften them). Add the garlic and cook for a further two minutes
2. Turn the heat up and add the beef, fry until browned all over. Add the tomato puree and cook off in the pan for a few minutes.
3. Pour in the red wine and it let bubble up a minute, then add the canned tomatoes and stock. Throw in the mushrooms, a bit of fresh or dried thyme and the mushrooms. Stir, season and leave to simmer for an hour.
4. For the mash; boil or steam your potatoes until soft. Heat some butter and milk in a pan and mash the potatoes with it. Throw in the herbs and mixed until creamy.
5. Put the meat into a deep dish and spread the mash on top – make sure the top isn’t too smooth. Sprinkle on the cheese and place in a pre-heated 180 degree (Gas 6) oven for 30-40 minutes until the underneath filling is slightly bubbling up and the top is golden and crisp. Serve with a pile of peas from the freezer, or some seasonal vegetables.