Sunday, 16 November 2014

Shepherd's Pie

It's that cosy comfort-food time of year ~ hoorah!

I've wanted to share this recipe with you for a while but thought it might be tricky. This is one of the most bung-it-in dishes I make, I never weigh any of the ingredients, so how can I share it? Then I figured what the hell, I'll just tell it like it is and let you try my way of cooking. Everybody has their own spin on a Shepherd's Pie anyway so feel free to tweak away to your heart's content. Here's how I do it:

250g mince (beef or lamb)
gravy granules
baked beans
brown sauce / Worcestershire sauce

Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / Gas 4

Start off by filling a pan with chopped peeled potatoes, and boil these until they're cooked.

While the potatoes are cooking, brown the mince. I often cook mine from frozen, flipping the block of meat over as each side browns and scraping the cooked part off with my spoon. So long as you cook all the meat through this is fine. While the mince is browning, finely chop your onion and add it to the pan. Once all the meat is cooked and the onion has softened, drain the excess fat ~ not down the sink!!! It will congeal in the pipes somewhere and cause a horrible blockage! I usually line a bowl with kitchen roll, drain the fat into this and throw it in the bin when it's cold.
Add a mugful of gravy to the meat and onions. I use about 3 heaped teaspoons of beef gravy granules. You want a nice thick gravy because you don't want your meat mixture to be too runny. You can add a crumbled beef oxo cube too for an extra oomph of flavour if you like.
Next I add a handful (yes, literally!) of peas, a handful of sweetcorn, about half a small tin of baked beans, and either a big squeeze of brown sauce, or a generous splash of Worcestershire sauce.

When the potatoes are cooked, drain then mash them with a generous knob of butter and enough milk to make a creamy mash.
Half fill an ovenproof dish with meat mixture then top with spoonfuls of mash, this is easiest to do if you go around the edges first then fill in the middle. You want the mash to be about 4 - 5 cm (1 1/2 inches?) deep. You may well have made more mash than you need but that's ok, homemade mash freezes well and is a godsend to have stashed in your freezer for those days when you're short on time.

Put the pie on a baking tray and cook in the centre of the oven for about 20 - 30 mins until the mash is golden and the gravy is bubbling up around the edges.

How lush is that? Just the thing for a cold autumnal tea. The quantities I listed makes roughly 3 or 4 portions. I usually make one large pie to share then two individual pies for the freezer. Unless I've done a lot of taste testing, then there might just be one individual pie . . .

Oh, and if you're wondering ~ a Shepherd's Pie is made with lamb mince, a Cottage Pie is made from beef.
And they're both delicious.

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