Fast-forward to Saturday night and Claire came back around. Since the last three times she has been over I have made pasta, I definitely had to not make pasta again (more for my sake than anyone else’s). The Boy’s sole request for dinner- something with mashed potatoes. With some gravy too. Not being in the mood to whip up a roast- woo hoo what a rockin’ Saturday night- but needing to make some sort of comfort meal, I settled on Cottage Pie. This would make Claire very, very happy as it’s her favourite meal (It would have made her happy if it had been SHepherds' Pie but she eat this one anyways). I’ll put it to you this way- when she was taken to The Ivy for lunch she ordered the Shepherds' Pie. Nope, no fancy or luxurious ingredients for her, straight to the Shepherds' Pie (which she reported was delicious). (Obviously this bit now has nothing to do with my tale since I have actually made Cottage Pie but now you know a little something about Claire's eating habits.)
I have neither made nor eaten Shepherds' Pie before (and technically I still haven't). Since I was already at the store when I decided that this was to be dinner, I had to guess at what actually went into it. It finally dawned on The Boy that the reason I was asking questions about this dish is because you don't really get Cottage Pie in the States. I gently reminded that we don't really have shepherds, we have cowboys so it would likely be called Cowboy Pie and would most likely be meatloaf (I kind of have a problem with this idea of meat in loaf form but I'll save that rant for another day).
It was not difficult to do and cooked up quickly. There were lots of leftovers; Claire took some to her boyfriend who was jealous we were eating it (he was hungover and wound up eating it for breakfast) and we get it for lunch tomorrow. Why the name Chelsea Cottage Pie? When I asked the gang of two how did it compare with Cottage Pie / Shepherds' Pies of the past, Claire commented that usually it is a bland dish but my version had lots of herbs and flavour. As she put it, “It’s definitely a posh version. Like a Chelsea Cottage Pie.” However, the best compliment of the night was another classic Claire-ism. As the tiny thing stated how she couldn’t fit into her skinny fit Seven jeans, she reached over and scooped a second helping onto her plate.
Chelsea Cottage Pie
500g ground beef
2 carrots, diced
1 parsnips, diced
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 red pepper, diced
4-5 potatoes (depending on size)
2 x 400 g tins of plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon plain flour
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
2 twigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped
1 tablespoon of Worcester Sauce (Worcestershire Sauce in the US)
1 handful grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 handful grated cheddar
Boil the potatoes in a pot until cooked through.
While the potatoes are cooking, brown the beef in a casserole pot or similar with a dash of oil. Once cooked, drain the excess fat and put the ground beef to one side (in a bowl or on a plate). In the same pot, add a glug of oil and sauté the onions until translucent. Add the carrots, parsnip and garlic and cook until softened. Add the peppers, rosemary, thyme and beef. Stir in the tins of tomatoes, crushing the tomatoes slightly. Add the Worcester sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the flour over the top and stir in (make sure the flour doesn’t turn clumpy). Simmer over low-medium heat for 20 minutes or until the liquid reduces by half.
While that simmers, make the mash according to personal preference. I mashed mine with a knob of butter, a ¼ cup of milk and left the skins on.
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Once the mix has simmered down, pour it into an ovenproof casserole dish. My mash to meat ratio was 50-50 but I suppose it should be 25-75. That probably explains why I have so much leftover. Put the mash evenly on top (you can use a fork to spread the mash and decorate it if you’d like).
Sprinkle the cheese on top and put in the oven for 15 minutes. If the top has not gone golden brown, put under the grill for a few minutes.
Serve with a side of green salad (or baked beans as Claire prefers).
I had to throw this picture in because it looks like a hippo about to chomp down on something- but that might be just me.