Cottage, Shepherd’s and Rustler’s (Cheat’s) Pie

Healthy cottage pie

In a short series of pie posts (two, to be honest), I thought I’d share my very easy approach to Shepherds/Cottage pie. And a real quick cheat’s version.

Again, start with a pan of spuds.

Gently fry a finely diced onion and carrot for about five minutes, then add mince (lamb or beef depending on your pie of choice) and fry until golden. This is all about building up layers of flavour at this stage. Drain off a little of the fat and stir through a dessertspoon of plain flour to thicken the gravy.

Add hot stock – beef, lamb or Swiss bouillon powder, plenty of black pepper and a small pinch of mixed herbs. A teaspoon of mustard is great with beef or the same of tomato puree with lamb. A squirt of Worcester sauce (or if you’re lucky enough to live far enough north to get Henderson’s Relish) is always a winner.

Simmer this for about 20 mins while the potatoes cook. With a slotted spoon, remove the meat and veg to an ovenproof dish, reserving the gravy for later. Top with mash and smoosh up the surface a bit so it crisps up. Crispy bits rule.

Cook in a hot oven, as above, for about 20 – 30 mins until golden and erupting like a little meaty volcano. Serve with the warmed gravy, peas and beans.

The picture’s of a recent experiment with a sliced potato topping – uses fewer spuds so is probably a bit healthier. I just topped with a couple of layers of finely sliced potatoes instead of mash and sprinkled a little cheese over the top. I’m not that good at doing healthy, really.

And here’s the cheat’s version – I’m going to call it Rustler’s Pie as we’re using someone else’s beef…

I’m with Delia on rating M&S tins quite highly – I was brought up eating stewed steak, mash and veg and still love it. The M&S chunky steak is lovely and warmed in a pan with half cup of stock, a handful of peas and a finely diced carrot makes a great instant base for a cottage pie. Top with mash, as above and whack it in a hot oven.

Purists may not like it – but what the hell’s wrong with knocking up a cottage pie  in half an hour when you’re hungry and in need of comfort food.

I can’t eat any of these without lots of bread and butter to mop up the gravy. And some ale.

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Categories: Beef lamb and pork, Speedy, Student, Winter


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