Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The Little House on the Stove Top

"Cottage Pie" in Padella
Cottage Pie in a Pan!

Cottage pie is an English traditional favorite- I am sure it is one of the preferred comfort food dishes that would top most peoples wish lists over there... and what's not to like? Basically, it is your traditional meat and three vegetables with potatoes, all rolled into one compact and convenient dish and great for feeding and pleasing a hungry family or a group of friends...

...but not the kind of thing you would normally prepare for one. Normally it would be a little bit too much bother. Normally you would need more ingredients than you can manage on your own- you would end up making a larger pie and having left-overs. And you know I am not going to eat the same meal 2 days in a row now, don't you? The same ingredients used in a different way- yes. But you know I like to have fun in the kitchen... and that is why I made this dish this evening- precisely to use up the remainders of the last 2 meals I have made!

You just knew I was going to pronounce that this was made of left-overs, right? Well let me tell you- this was 1 boiled potato from yesterday and enough ground meat from the other night for me to have made a nice hamburger. Not REALLY enough to make a satisfying meal. So I improvised. 

I popped the meat into my cast iron pan together with 1 small chopped carrot, a small onion and 4-5 sliced brown mushrooms. Oh, and the peas. In they went all at the same time, together with a handful of chopped parsley, stalks and all, a couple of sage leaves, and a few twigs worth of thyme. I added a couple of finely chopped celery leaves, to give a good, savory depth of flavor to the mix and seasoned with salt, pepper and a teaspoon of mild paprika. 

After frying this for 5-6 minutes as a moderate heat, everything was and brown, looking good and smelling delicious. This was the right time to turn the good flavors in the pan into a yummy gravy- so I sprinkled a teaspoon on flour into the pan and stirred it in, then added a tablespoon of tomato paste and worked that in too... very rich and intense now! Yum! Things got better still when I deglazed the frying pan with just a splash of red wine, which I followed up with some hot water from the kettle, stirring it in a little at a time, until it became a nice consistency. Great! All I needed to do now was to turn on the broiler as I usually do... only to discover that it had decided to strike on me this evening... not so great! So you will have to imagine it being nice and golden on top- what I had to settle with was 5 minutes of baking at a high heat to bring it up to temperature... oh well!

Whilst the oven was heating up, I prepared the potato by simple mashing it with a fork and popping it into a saucepan with a little milk and a knob of butter... and whisking. I added a little more milk as necessary and seasoned with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Soon it was nice and smooth and ready to spread over the now ready meat and vegetables. I wish I had, had a little more in the way of potato... but c'est la vie I guess! I made the most of what I had- and it was just fine... more than that actually- it was really good!

As I said dear friends- imagine it being crispy on top- haha! A little cheese would have helped to I guess- and I would recommend it when you come around to making it... but you get the gist I hope! And I also hope that you want to try making it too!

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