Hello kind readers, hope you had a great weekend! BBC1 here: This recipe came about some years ago when my brother Billy and his wife Angie brought my mother down here to Cornwall for a holiday with us. One of my favourite meals is Cottage Pie and my mum would always make this for me as a child. I wanted to return the favour and make my mum something homely, but because they were all on diets, I couldn’t use butter, so no mashed potato!
Anyway, BBC2 makes a great Lancashire Hotpot, with neck of lamb and this got me to thinking whether you could do it with beef. Then it suddenly dawned on me to use the same kind of filling you would use in a Cottage Pie, eureka! Homely food, no butter…
Everybody who has ever had this dish loves it. It is true comfort food.
500gm of lean minced/ground beef
1 large white onion or two medium, diced
3 carrots peeled and diced
1 & 1/2 cups of frozen peas
3 1/2lbs or 1.5 kilo of potatoes, peeled and cut in half
2 beef stock cubes
4 to 5 Tbs of gravy granules (I use Bisto)
Enough boiling water to just cover the meat and veg (approx 2 pints)
Place the potatoes in a pan of salted water and bring to a boil. We are going to par boil the potatoes until they are not completely cooked, as they will finish cooking in the oven. Should take about 10 mins once they have come to a boil. Once ready, drain them and fill pan with cold water to cool them down and stop the cooking process. I usually place the pan in the sink and leave the tap running for a couple of minutes, to ensure they are cold enough to handle.
In the meantime, in a heavy bottomed pan brown the minced meat, using a spatula/spoon to break up the meat, then add the diced onion and fry until translucent. Now add the diced carrots and continue to stir and fry for a couple of minutes. Next add the peas and the stock cubes and pour in just enough boiling water to just cover the meat and vegetables, maybe coming just about an 1/8 inch above them. Bring to a rolling boil then add the gravy granules and stir to dissolve. Now turn the heat down to a gentle simmer for approx 20 to 30 minutes.
Pre heat oven to 180c Fan.
Whilst the meat mixture is cooking it’s time to drain and slice the potatoes, using a chopping board and a sharp knife slice the potatoes into medallions about a 1/4 of inch thick. Don’t worry if some medallions break or you end up with fiddly bits, we will separate these and use them later.
Once you have sliced your potatoes and the filling is cooked, you will need a deep casserole dish and a slotted spoon.
In the bottom of the casserole dish make a layer of potato, this is where the broken potato medallions and the fiddly bits get used. As you are saving your perfect and whole medallions for the top layers. After the first layer of potato, use a slotted spoon to ladle a layer of the meat and vegetables over the potatoes. You want to leave as much of the gravy behind in the pan as you can. Continue layering potato and meat and vegetable like this until you have filled the casserole, ending with a layer of your best, saved, potato medallions.
Now, you want the remaining gravy to be quite thick, so if it is too watery at this point add more gravy granules and dissolve, otherwise slowly pour all of the remaining gravy all over the top layer of potato and allow it seep down through the layers.
Place casserole dish on a baking tray (in case of spillage or bubbling over) and place in pre-heated oven for 40 to 50 minutes. To test potatoes are cooked through pierce centre with knife and if it goes through easily you know it is done. If not, cook for a little longer until the potatoes are cooked. Serve nice and hot, maybe with a slice of a nice farmhouse loaf.
This is great meal, because you get the nice crispy potatoes on the top and succulent gravy soaked vegetables, meat and potatoes underneath. It’s comfort food at its best and a hug for the soul…and I’ve now convinced myself I’ve got to make it again soon!