Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Simple Dinners - Guinness Cottage Pie

I come from a big big family. Not my immediate family, that's quite little but my extended family is just enormous. I love going back to Malaysia to visit because there's so many of them that I get to visit, spend time and eat wonderful food with. Unfortunately I don't get to see all of them very often. This recipe comes from one of my dear cousins who I haven't seen in a very long time. I remember her making this for me the last time she came to visit Sydney, it was warm and hearty and perfect for the winter months. She reminded me of it again after she saw my blog and so I asked her for the recipe one particular evening when I was really craving something extra hearty.

While others had referred to the pie as a shepherd's pie in the past, it's actually a cottage pie because of the beef mince, it would need lamb mince to be considered a real shepherd's pie (my brother educated me on this fact recently, lambs->shepherds *dawn of realisation*) I tried to find lamb mince but was unlucky, so a cottage pie it was to be. Unfortunately I had already started improvising my own recipe before I received my cousin's email, so I hope you don't mind Pris, I have strayed from your original recipe a little bit!

Guinness Cottage Pie
500g beef mince
1 can Guinness Stout
2-3 bay leaves
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
1/4 celery bunch, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
1/4 cup tomato paste (I didn't have any so I used 1/2 tomato sauce 1/2 HP sauce it was AWESOME)
Chicken or beef stock
1 whole star anise
Approx 7-10 large potatoes
Milk & butter
Fresh ground pepper and sea salt for seasoning

Chop vegetables. Heat some olive oil in a large pot or pan (I used my wok hehe) on medium heat and add onion, carrot celery, bay leaves and a pinch of salt. Cook until all vegetables are starting to soften and add garlic in. Toss until all vegetables are tender and starting to colour. Remove from pan and set aside. Peel potatoes and boil in a large pot of water until soft (10-15 mins).

Turn heat up to high and add more oil if needed. When pan is hot enough, add mince meat, break up and stir until browned. Add tomato paste (or tomato sauce and HP sauce), star anise, Guinness and chicken stock + fresh pepper (to taste). Star anise is my secret ingredient for a lot of meat dishes, it just adds so much depth to a dish and boosts the meatiness of meat (I know that sounds weird but it really does). You have to be careful not to let it overpower the dish as it can be very strong. I use it in so many of my dishes; my bolognese sauce, chicken casseroles and soy sauce chickens.

Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Mix in your softened vegetables, cover with a lid and simmer on low heat for at least 15 minutes. If your mixture is still watery, simmer with the lid off to thicken sauce. If you really need to you can add flour a tsp at a time to thicken the sauce but I didn't need to do this. When it is the desired consistency, spoon mixture into a large oven safe dish or smaller individual ramekins (try to fish out the bay leaves and star anise). Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.

When your potatoes are tender, drain water and mash. Add a knob of butter and a huge splash of milk. Making good mash potatoes was one of the first things my brother taught me (along with perfect rice in the microwave). For me the key is really good quality butter but not too much of it, a pinch of sea salt and way more milk that you think you need. I almost saturate my potatoes with milk because the potato tends to soak it up quite quickly and the milk makes the mash extra moist. Sometimes I add way too much but then I just stick the potatoes in the microwave for a few minutes to thicken it. I usually prefer desirees for mash.

Pipe or spoon mash over your pie. I liked the piping because the sharp edges went all golden brown and crunchy when placed in the oven. Place in your hot oven until the top is golden brown.

A was extremely happy with his dinner. It definitely appealed to his inner Brit and he enjoyed it with a ton of tomato sauce. He claimed it tasted just like how you would want a cottage pie to taste, which I consider a success since I've never made it before :)mi4p3utc87
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  1. Oohhh love the piping technique and the little burnt edges!!!! mmm this is such a winter-y dish - so hearty and rich! i love it!

  2. Yum! What perfect food for a horrible rainy day like this! I like the piped mash potatoes on top too -yep agree it's all about the edges :D

  3. Great recipe, and I looove the piped potato and use of HP. You *are* clever!

  4. definitely pipe the mash to make the pie look pretty!

  5. mmmmm... I have yet to try Guinness in a pie, but am sure it would be fantastic! And sharing with family (or having a family recipe) is even better.

    P.S. love the piped potato

  6. Hee hee at realizing lamb -> shepherds pie hee hee. Either way I love potato on my pies mmmm and Guinness in a pie?... BRILLIANT!

  7. I love the way you piped the mash! The filling looks oh so tasty too.

  8. Trisha - Thanks! The burnt edges are the tasty bits :)

    Lorraine - Yeah it was a miserable, wet day wasn't it? Hehe yep love the edges :D

    Belle - Haha thanks! HP is my new (not so) secret ingredient

    panda - :D for sure!

    Anita - I've tried a couple, to be honest it wasn't too strong in flavour but added some great richness to the filling. Thanks!

    FFichiban - hehe yep it seemed so obvious once I thought about it. Haha thank you!

    Rilsta - Thanks so much! It was yummy, I kept eating it on its own while I was cooking lol


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