Economical Eating Part 2 – Our delectable Cottage Pie

fanny and brendas gorgeous cottage pie starts with the meat grinder spong

This is what happens with the leftovers from the roast featured in our previous posting. You need to be aware that for the time and trouble that you go to, the results will be spectacularly worthwhile. In fact you’ll never want to eat shop bought mechanically pelletted mince again.

INGREDIENTS

Leftover roast beef
2-3 sticks celery – finely chopped
2-3 parsnips – finely chopped
couple of cloves of garlic – crushed
fresh rosemary and thyme – roughly chopped
tin of tomatoes
squeeze of tomato puree
splash of red wine
Worcester sauce
2lbs floury potatoes
butter and cream
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
ground nutmeg

METHOD

1) Hopefullly you’ve got about 3-400g beef left over – anyway simply mince it through your Spong or other meat grinding device and set aside

2) Heat some olive oil in a spacious frying pan and add the finely chopped veg (onions, garlic, parsnips – in my case, but most people would use carrots instead) plus the herbs. Give that chance to get a really good fry, ideally with the veg dice being at this stage quite tender and even starting to brown a bit.

3) Add the mince which, being already cooked, should only take another five mins or so – I got a few crusty brown bits developing which is good – it’s all flavour – although you don’t want it getting too dry.

4) Transfer the meat/veg mix to a very large saucepan or pot and add the tin of tomatoes, tomato puree a good gush of red wine and possibly some water – use your judgement but bear in mind the pot will now gently simmer for the best part of an hour to really meld the flavours. During cooking, test the seasoning and add a few splashes of Worcester sauce. Once done, should have a loose, pulpy consistency, but not be too sloppy.

5) Meanwhile, peel and chop your potatoes and simmer in salted water for 25 mins until very tender. I actually recycled some from the pot roast which meant I was able to slightly cut down on the amount of fresh spud needed. Once cooked, drain and allow to steam off a few minutes then process through a ricer – there really isn’t another such foolproof way of guaranteeing smooth mash! Add butter, cream, salt and pepper plus ground nutmeg to taste (but max half a teaspoonful) and set aside. You do need the mash to be quite firm though otherwise it won’t keep it’s shape as a pie topping, so don’t over do the cream even though I can hardly believe myself for that command to self-control!! Switch on the oven about now, to about 170C if eating the pie immediately.

6) Once the meat sauce has simmered to the state where it looks rich and combined, usually around 45 mins, then transfer to a pie dish, then spoon on dollops of the mashed potato ensuring you leave it nice and rustic – bake, and while it cooks, the “peaks” will go darker and crispier than the rest, providing a very jolly effect!

7) I was lucky enough to have left over gravy from the pot roast, which I topped up with a few tablespoons of the cooking liquor from the meat sauce which seems to separate to the top of the pot in the earlier stages of simmering so is easy to retrieve for that purpose! This, along with a few frozen peas, (they’re done when they’ve JUST boiled) with some butter and seasoning makes for a simply superb winter supper – with the added advantage of hoovering up a lot of leftovers otherwise cluttering your fridge up and generally being wasteful.

fanny and brendas gorgeous cottage pie - there won't be any leftovers! photo by Simon Bennett

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