Sunday, 2 December 2012

Shepherd's Pie (Cottage Pie)

The difference between shepherd's pie and cottage pie is the former is made with lamb mince, while cottage pie is made with beef mince. For this recipe i've used beef mince (cottage pie). This is my take on the recipe, so you will find it slightly different from the classic version. Its a great dish to make in advance for a party, and one that kids will always love. So you are sure to get a hit when you serve up this dish at a party.

Shepherd's pie (cottage pie)
Shepherd's Pie (Cottage Pie)

500gms beef mince
1 onion chopped fine
1 carrot chopped fine
stock cubes to taste
1 stick of celery chopped fine
2 tbsps tomato paste
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp pepper powder
1 tbsp all purpose flour
135gms tomato puree (small tetra pack)
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried basil
fresh parsley chopped fine
2 large potatoes boiled
1 cup of milk
mozzarella cheese
grated cheddar cheese

First cook the beef mince in a pressure cooker. Heat oil in a pressure cooker, add in the onions, carrots and celery. Saute them for a bit. Then add in the powder stock cubes(one big or two small ones) and tomato paste. Next add the spice powders i.e. cumin powder, cayenne powder and pepper powder. Add a cup of water, give it a good stir and close the pressure cooker.
Turn the heat on to the highest setting and when it whistles, lower and time for 15 mins.
Once the timer is finished, take the cooker off the heat. Pressure cookers are dangerous and need to be handled with care so this is what I usually do when I need to open it; to release the steam you need to lift off the counterweight gradually and bleed off the steam, I usually do this by levering the weight with a fork and adjusting it to let out the steam gently or just run the sides of the cooker under water until it has suffficiently cooled down to reduce the pressure in the cooker.

Do NOT attempt to open the cooker without letting off the steam as this could result in some serious steam burns.

Once you open the pressure cooker, put the open cooker(without lid) back on the heat and add in the tomato puree. Tomato puree is different from tomato paste. Tomato paste is more concentrated than the puree. I use the paste in the beginning and then to create a sauce I use the tomato puree.

To get a nice thick tomato sauce, don't add the puree in the beginning as it will thin out and you will get more of a curry than a sauce. Add it last in the cooking process and you get get a lovely sauce. Keep in mind when making other tomato based sauces like bolognese etc. Adding a pinch of sugar is another trick to balance out the tartness of the tomato.

Take some dry oregano and basil, rub it between your palms to release the flavour and add it in the beef mince. Stir in the chopped fresh parsley. Taste again to make the seasoning is right. Now stir in the flour. There is no need to cook the flour at this stage as it will finish cooking later in the oven. Adding the flour will keep the sauce nice and thick and make it easier to serve later. The first half of your dish is now complete.

Now you need to boil the potatoes. Again I use a pressure cooker. Wash the potatoes giving the skin a good scrub. Now put the potatoes in a pressure cooker. Cover with water till it just covers the top of the potatoes.

You should never fill a pressure cooker more than 3/4 of the way up with liquid as when it whistles it will release all that extra water and you will have a mess on your stove. It could also be dangerous as well.

Close and put on the highest setting. When it whistles lower and time. Depending on the size of your potato, for a medium one, I time for just 10 mins. We get some extra large ones here in Dubai, so I time them for 12 -15 mins depending on their size. Since we are making a mash later, it doesn't matter if it gets slightly overcooked.  Use the usual precautions for a pressure cooker once the timer is done. Open the cooker and remove the potatoes. Peel and mash with a fork, making sure there are no lumps.

In another saucepan, melt some butter and add in the mashed potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and add in about a cup of milk till you get a smooth paste like consistency. Turn off the heat and let it cool. You are now ready to assemble the dish.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Now take (about 1 and a half to 2 inches) deep baking dish. Place the cooled beef mince sauce at the bottom and then spread the potato mixture on the top, taking care to cover all the mince. Slice some mozzarella cheese and lay on the top of the potato. And/ or sprinkle some grated cheddar cheese. I used both types of cheese as cheddar doesnt melt as well as mozzarella, but if you want some of the sharpness from the cheese then by adding the cheddar you achieve that result.

Place it in the oven, without any cover and bake for about an 45mins to an hour. Check and see if you feel it is ready earlier you can remove it. It doesnt need too long as the ingredients are already cooked and you are just looking to warm the dish and melt the cheese.

This whole process seems long as I have tried to write down every detail but it is very simple and like I mentioned earlier it can be made a day in advance. Just take it out from the fridge and let it come to room temperature before you add it in the oven..

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