Cottage pie

Shepherd's pie
Previously published in the Northern Echo
A recent recipe on here was for a beef pot roast and, if there’s any left over, the remains can be used for a cottage pie. Of course, you don’t need to wait for that though. If there’s no left overs, just sauté some chopped onions, add 450g of minced beef to brown, add a little stock or wine and allow to simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Then proceed as if you’ve some leftover roast beef mince as below.

I think I once got the leek and potato mix idea from Delia but you could use other ingredients to make the mash even more interesting. Try buttered cooked garden peas instead or you could sprinkle the top of the finished mash with grated cheese before baking in the oven. Remember, there are no rules.

Serves four

One kg of potatoes for mashing – peeled
Two leeks – washed and thinly sliced
150g butter
450g cooked roast beef
Two carrots – chopped
Two onions – chopped
Two sticks of celery – chopped
A little beef dripping or oil for frying
The leaves from a sprig of fresh thyme or one teaspoon of dried
A handful of chopped fresh parsley
One tablespoon of plain flour
350ml beef stock
Worcester sauce
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200C, gas 6

Cut the potatoes into even sized chunks, place in a pan, cover with cold water, add a little salt, bring to the boil and simmer until tender. Drain and mash; adding a little milk if very dry.

While the potatoes are cooking, put the leeks with the butter in a saucepan and allow them to soften, stirring occasionally. When cooked, add a little black pepper and then mix them into the mashed potato along with their butter.

Either chop the beef into small pieces with a knife or use a processor but be careful not to over-process or you’ll end up with a powdery mush.

Heat a knob of dripping or a little oil in a large saucepan. Gently fry the onions, carrots and celery until soft before turning up the heat a little and adding the beef and stirring well. Add the herbs and the flour and stir again before adding the stock. Bring to a simmer and cook gently for 15 minutes, adding a teaspoon or so of Worcester sauce to taste. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.

To assemble, spoon the meat mixture into a baking dish and spread the potato and leeks on the top, using a fork to rough up the texture.

Place in the oven for 25 to 40 minutes until the top is browning and the sauce is bubbling up around the edges.

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