Here’s a great old English recipe to keep you warm this winter. This dish has been on the menu in England since the late 1700s, when the potato was introduced to England as a cheap crop. It takes its name from the rural dwellings of the peasantry, and has changed very little from its humble origins of meat scraps, vegetables and a mashed potato crust. This recipe will serve four people – you’ll need to adjust the amount of each ingredient proportionally in order to serve a different number.
What you’ll need:
From the garden, you’ll need a whole onion, a clove of garlic, four tomatoes, four medium-sized potatoes and one leek.
From the market, you’ll need a beef stock cube, 1/3oz of tomato purée, 1/3oz of Worcestershire sauce (known in England as ‘Worcester sauce’) and some salt and pepper. You’ll also need your cooking oil of choice.
From the dairy, you’ll need 1oz of creamy butter, 1/2oz fresh whole milk and 2oz cheddar cheese.
From the butcher, get 1lb of lean, ground beef.
How to prepare the ingredients:
Chop the onion into fine pieces, then crush the clove of garlic. Chop the tomatoes. Slice the leek as finely as you can, then blanch them for a couple of minutes. Peel the potatoes, chop them into halves and place them into a large saucepan and cover with slightly salted water. Grate the cheese and set it to one side.
Now you’re ready to make Cottage Pie!
Firstly, heat a small amount of oil in a saucepan. Add the chopped onion and crushed garlic and cook them, being careful to avoid burning them. Once they are soft, add the ground beef and continue to cook it until the meat browns. Be sure to give it a good stir to help it cook evenly.
Next, add the tomato purée, tomatoes, stock cube and the Worcestershire sauce. Season with salt and pepper and continue to cook it slowly for another twenty minutes.
Now it’s time to preheat your oven to 360 Fahrenheit. While it is getting warm, boil up the potatoes and salter water in the saucepan until the potatoes become soft. Drain off the water and mash the potatoes, along with the butter and milk. The mash should be creamy and smooth.
Once that’s done, take the meat and place it in a large oven dish. Layer over the blanched leek. Then, using a fork, spread the mash evenly over the meat, and sprinkle the grated cheese on top of it. You can now put it all in the oven and allow it to cook for twenty minutes.
To make the crust that extra bit brown and crispy, place the pie under a hot grill for a few minutes once it’s cooked.
Pull the dish out from the grill before it burns and your Cottage Pie is ready to serve. There’s nothing better to warm you up, as you watch the snow fall outside on a col and dark winter’s evening.