Sunday, January 22, 2006


Since I posted earlier this week, it has caused quite a stir in the office and scenes of the next English civil war. Anna the Pedant (or if you prefer Anna I can immortalise you here as Anna Banana?) has brought it to my attention (and to the attention of a few Brits that thought otherwise) that a Shepherds' Pie is made with lamb and a Cottage Pie is made with beef. To further illustrate her point she sent all of us this link-
And although I neglected to mention it to her, I did wonder about the difference because I thought the names were interchangeable and The Boy reprimanded me about it (but of course couldn't back it up). So I have gone through and amended this and erased all mention of the S word. But no worries about it- I'd rather have a Chelsea Cottage than a Chelsea Shepherd anyways.
The end of January can be a stressful time for many people but it is even more stressful for anyone who is self-employed and has to send in their tax forms by the 31st. One such person is my dear friend Claire the Hairdresser. She was over for dinner a week ago and was saying that she rang the tax people with some questions was told the answers and forms could be found online. Claire’s reaction? “On line, on line. What the fuck is online? On what line- the washing line? Look I don’t even know how to turn a computer on- let alone doing the damn form online.” I think she hung up after that. It took a few glasses of wine to calm her back down again. Thankfully, my knight in shining tax savvy armour leapt to her defence and offered to help her out.

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.


Jeri said...

I think I just found tonights dinner! Might we perhaps have some of the measurements also in ounces? Will share results tomorrow. xoxoxox

Jeri said...

this dish was really good. Even your dad loved it. It does make alot, so I was able to make two dishes. I took one to share at work the next day and everyone loved it. I especially liked the taste of the parsnip. I left the peel on about half of the potatoes simply because your dad complains about them. I will definitely make this again. Please, please also do the measurements in ounces!!!

MM said...

I love cottage pie and a posh one ... Well, I'll just have to try it!

Xochitl said...

Hi MM!

Welcome to my blog! I hope you have enjoyed it so far. Please let me know what you think of the Cottage Pie.