On Saturday, however, the remnants of Hurricane Ike moved through our area and gave us a good old soaking. It started raining on Saturday afternoon and didn’t stop bucketing it down until Sunday morning. All that rain and the cool weather allowed me to satisfy my craving for mash with some good old British comfort food, Cottage Pie, lovely.
The difference between Cottage and Shepherd’s Pie is in the choice of meat. Cottage Pie is made with minced beef, and Shepherd’s Pie with minced shepherds, sorry I couldn’t resist, actually ground lamb. I think I’ve mentioned before that lamb is as rare as rocking horse poop here in Oklahoma, hence Cottage Pie.
Another thing, although I have said to use corn starch to thicken the gravy, I actually use a British product called Bisto gravy powder. According to their mantra, Bisto browns, seasons, and thickens all in one go, it’s what my mum always used, so I was weaned on it. But, I should point out that I have made this dish exactly as in this recipe, one time when I couldn’t get hold of any Bisto, and it was still good. If you’re interested you can check out Bisto here:
1lb ground sirloin
1/2 tablespoon butter
2 lbs. mashed potatoes, mashed with milk and butter
1 onion, chopped.
3 carrots, sliced
2 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
A generous dash of fresh ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
- Pre-heat oven to 400°F
- In a large skillet melt butter over medium high heat and brown meat.
- Add the onion and sauté for two minutes.
- Add carrots and beef stock. Bring to the boil, add Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, and bay leaves, and simmer for 20-25 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon transfer the mixture to an 11-inch x 7-inch ovenproof dish, reserving most of the stock, and removing bay leaves. Add about ½ of a cup of stock to the meat. I know a lot of people prefer to add most of the stock to the dish, but I find this make the mash to soggy. I like my mash to stay firm, but it’s a matter of personal preference.
- Cover the mixture with mashed potato, and form grooves in the surface with a fork.
- Bake for 50 – 60 minutes, or until potatoes are golden brown.
- Skim any fat from surface of reserved stock. Mix cornstarch with a little water and add to stock. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until gravy thickens, add more seasoning if required.
Serve pie with seasonal vegetables and lashings of gravy.