Another autumn dish, the Cottage Pie is a British favourite. I love how easy conti cooking is compared to the elaborate Indian meal. A couple of my brothers friends called up last Friday and said they were coming over....imagine 4 boys, early twenties. I thought, OK I'll just make a veg. bake, grilled chicken and get garlic bread and dessert from the store, when they pleaded with me and said they were dying to have mallu grub, that too kappa (tapioca) and fish curry. Blimey...I freaked out! As you all might already know, I suck at making Kerala dishes, leave alone something as authentic as kappa (mashed tapioca). But I felt so sorry for the fellas and decided to go all out and make it any way. So I started at around 12 in the afternoon and was only able to sit down and have a drink at 8pm when they actually arrived. And you'd think I cooked up a storm??? Well all I made was...rice, a prawn curry, a thoran (veg dish), kappa and beef curry. Yes it took me 8 hrs to do all this, and the mess I made..oh god don't even make me start on that. The tapioca was such a mess, but the boys were so unbelievable happy that there was absolutely no left over. They would have thanked me at least a hundred times for the awesome dinner..which, in spite of all that hard work, did make me feel happy. Also, the fact that I made Ro clean up afterwards, massage my back because I was standing all day, and then eating out the entire weekend did make it worth it, Id say (evil laugh...)
But seriously, never again am I gonna make Indian food when I have people over..the chopping, stirring, simmering and seasoning just made it so unpleasant, I decided to stick to some bakes and grills for the coming week..and that's just what I did...kick started the week with this cottage pie.
(Interesting trivia.... using beef mince makes it a Cottage Pie and lamb mince makes it a Shepherds pie).
Adapted from a Gordon Ramsay recipe that came on Channel 4.
Beef mince- 500 gms
Onion- 1 medium, grated
Tomato- 1, grated
Frozen green peas- a handful
Garlic- 2 pods, grated
Pepper powder- 1 tsp (or to taste)
Chilli powder- 1 tsp (optional)
Dried Thyme- 1 tsp
Dried Rosemary- 1/2 tsp
Worcestershire sauce- 2 tbsp
Red wine- 250 ml
Chicken stock- 300 ml
Salt- to taste
For the potato mash
Large potatoes- 1/2 kg
Egg yolks- 2 (optional)
Butter- 50 gms
Cheddar cheese- 1/4 cup + enough to sprinkle on top
Heat the olive oil in a pressure cooker, grate the onions and garlic into it with a grater and sauté till they turn translucent.
Grate the tomatoes into the pan and cook till it becomes a bit mushy.
Add the beef mince to this and mix well.
Season with pepper and chilli powder and also add the Worcestershire sauce and herbs. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring continuously.
Add the frozen green peas and the red wine and cook till almost evaporated.
Add the chicken stock and put on the lid, followed by the weight when the steam comes.
Cook for about 8 to 10 minutes on medium- high flame, or for about 2 whistles.
Release the pressure, and open the lid. If there is way too much liquid, then boil again on high heat till they are more or less evaporated. It should be a thick gravy.
While that's taken care of, get the potatoes ready.
Boil the potatoes in salt water, till soft.
Peel and mash them along with the cheese, salt and pepper and egg yolk if adding to a smooth consistency...not too runny or too thick.
Pre-heat the oven to 180C
Layer the bottom of an oven proof dish with the mince meat mix.
Spoon in large amounts of mashed potato on to the meat and carefully layer it, working from the outside, into the middle.
Generously grate some cheddar cheese on top of the potato, fluff it up with a fork if needed and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Serve with some bread or even better garlic bread...and feast on :)
Notes: You can use carrots, parsnips, leek or any veggie of your choice.
The good part of this recipe is that you can grate all this into the cooker and not use a chopping board..less things to wash ;)
If you want a very Indian flavour, feel free to use coriander powder, garam masala,meat masala etc.
Red wine is optional, just the chicken stock would do, but check the salt and only then add more..the stock can be really salty
I was lazy and so used store bought mashed potato instead of making my own. It was a tad too thick, so I loosened it up with some milk. Also, its not as thick as it should be...it only formed a very thin layer which was fine by us..less carbs :)