Autumn is coming….tuck into a cottage pie

Autumn is coming….tuck into a cottage pie Credit: John le Seur

As we still steam in summer heat and humidity, it is that time to start thinking of red wine and winter food. 

So I thought I would share my late mother’s recipe for what she called shepherd’s pie all her life, though as it made with beef, we would these days have to be correct and call it cottage pie. 

Yes you say, what an ordinary humdrum dish. Except you might not think so if you read on…. 

It starts with standard ingredients of minced beef, and chopped onions. 

First you fry the mince until it just turns brown, you are getting rid of the fat and seriously buy the best mince beef you can afford. The least fat the better. Drain the fat off. 

Then into your baking dish goes the mince and the onions. Now add a layer of well chopped cabbage. 

Generously sprinkle on some Worcestershire sauce. 

Finally add a can of Guinness. 

Put in the oven on a medium heat covering the mixture with foil. Take out every half an hour and stir. It should reduce but not go dry. 

The potatoes are next. Peel, half and quarter, and boil. When ready, test if they fall off a knife easily, put in a bowl for mashing. 

 Type 1: Add generous dollops of mayonnaise until the mashing gives a good heavy smooth consistency. No lumps please! Add salt and pepper and then they are ready for spreading. 

Type 2: Add parmesan cheese to the process, best finely grated but can be flakes. If you use flakes spread generously and evenly. 

Type 3: Add horseradish to the mash potato mayonnaise mix, goes especially well combined with with the parmesan cheese. 

If you need to pause the dish to get it ready for a specific time, do so at this stage and hold it back out of the oven. The last stage takes around 20-30 minutes. 

 When the mince has reduced, but is still moist with some liquid still showing on the bottom of the dish, add dollops of mash potato and spread with a fork. Then put back in the oven without foil, at the top to just cause a brown colour to take hold of the potato on the crest of the pattern left by spreading with the fork. 

Put the bottle of Worcestershire sauce on the table in case anyone wants a top up. I usually serve with peas or a vegetable mix. Left overs can be frozen successfully in portions for another time. 

Now serve with a nice hearty tinto Rioja or Ribuerodel Duero. 

Enjoy! Thanks Mum! 

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