Some comfort with cottage pie

4 October 2011 § 9 Comments

I make most food from scratch after all that is what this blog is about – real food for my family. My interest was piqued when I read about the October unprocessed challenge – I wondered if we could do it – a month with no processed food.

The definition of unprocessed food is quite wide –  any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with readily available, whole-food ingredients. So in my book anything on the ingredient list that is unpronounceable is out, but fortunately for everyone around me coffee and chocolate are in as technically they could be made at home.

Here is a delicious dish that is perfect for the cooler fall evenings. Cottage pie is a crowd pleaser and one of my  childhood favorites that luckily The Ladies™ love too. Under the crust of creamy, cheesy mashed potato is a bubbling, rich meat sauce.

Like most comfort food, cottage pie’s origins are quite humble. It dates back to the 1790s when potatoes were introduced as an edible crop for the poor who lived in cottages (laborer’s houses). When made with good quality ingredients some of the best food is simple.

Ingredients – serves 4

For the mash:

  • 4-5 medium to large potatoes – chopped into smaller pieces
  • 1 tbs unsalted butter
  • A glug of whole milk or cream
  • 3 oz grated Cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper

For the meat sauce:

  • 1lb organic grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tbs tomato purée
  • 1 tsp of cornflour
  • Worcester sauce (okay this is processed so you can either leave out or make your own – recipe here)
  • 1 cup beef stock (home-made)

Pre-heat the oven to 350°.

Put the potatoes in a pan of salted water and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 12-14 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Then drain off the water. Add the butter to the potatoes and mash. Add the milk and continue to mash until smooth and season with salt and pepper.

Fry the onion and garlic in butter in a skillet on a medium heat.  When the onion has softened after a few minutes add the meat and stir to brown. You will notice a lot of fat come to the surface, drain this off so it does not taste greasy. Add the chopped carrot and fry for a few more minutes.

Sprinkle the cornflour over the meat. Then stir in the tomato purée and gradually add the stock, stirring all the while so that after a few minutes it will thicken.

Pour the sauce into an oven-proof dish, then cover with the mash. Spread the mash out with a fork, then sprinkle the cheese over the top. Cook in the oven for about 30 minutes. Brown the top under the broiler. Leave for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy with peas or beans as a healthy, family meal.

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