Can someone please explain to me where the year has gone? I probably say this alot, but for real, 2015 is almost a blur to me. I have this theory that once you’ve reached about halfway-you know to about July (ish) the year is practically over LOL.
The festive season is just in it’s infancy and I anticipate it with great delight. Christmas carols echo throughout the stores, ostentatious decorations and serene lights glimmer along the streets of London. But putting aside the overtly commercialised ideas of what we have been conditioned to associating with this season, let’s not forget the importance of spending time with your loved ones, caring for one another and of course remembering and appreciating the birth of Christ.
A major Christmas tradition is and continues to be, of course, sitting down and sharing in an elaborate feast with friends and family. To me, apart from the annual Christmas service, this remains my favorite part of the celebration. I guess, it wouldn’t of taken much to figure that out, bearing in mind that my love of food stands evident.
But as to not lose myself and go of in a tangent in such a premature manner (it is only the 16th of December after all), I’d thought it would be nice to take influence from winter comfort food in general for this next original recipe. (But don’t worry they’ll certainly be Christmas themed blog posts coming up soon, no doubt about it!)…
When I’m wrapped up warm and cosy, I crave something warm and heartening for the wintery blues. And at these times you can’t get much better than a good ol’ Cottage Pie. I thoroughly enjoy the flavoursome beef, creamy mashed potatoes and cheesy topping. Heaven! This is an excellent recipe for those lazy days that can so easily be done with frozen mash too. And if you don’t feel for beef mince and instead would prefer lamb to make a Shepherd’s Pie it’s exactly the same process:
Costanza’s Cheesy Cottage Pie
(Serves 5-6 people)
750g lean beef mince
1 tbsp sunflower oil
3 medium onions, chopped
1 scotch bonnet pepper (or chilli), deseeded and chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 salad tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp tomato purée
500ml beef stock
2-3 tbsp plain flour
Seasoning or salt, to taste
3-4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp thyme, dried
500g mild cheddar cheese, grated
2 x 500g packets of good quality frozen mash (follow the instructions on the packet or make from scratch)
Preheat the oven to 200 °C / Gas Mark 6.
Heat the sunflower oil within a large saucepan at a medium heat. Sauté the onions, garlic, scotch bonnet pepper until softened.
Add the beef mince in batches and cook until brown and caramelised.
Add the beef stock, tomatoes, tomato pureé, dried thyme, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, plain flour and season to your liking.
Mix thoroughly and cover with a lid, turn down to a low heat and leave at a simmer for 20-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the frozen mashed potato within the microwave following the instructions provided on the packaging.
Add the mince to your chosen casserole dish and top with the mash.
Use a fork to score the layer of mash and sprinkle grated cheddar all over.
Place within the oven, uncovered for 30 minutes until nice and golden.
It’s best to get the mash as smooth as is possible but make sure that it’s not too sloppy or it will not remain a distinct layer above the bubbling meat.
For a twist, you could replace the mash with a 50:50 mix of normal potatoes with parsnips/sweet potatoes.
And if you want it to be even more cheesy you could always use a stronger Cheddar or mix it with Red Leicester. This cheese has a much crumblier texture and brings an additional nutty flavour to the dish.
This is quite a rich, decadent supper so a side serving of some fresh winter veg hit the spot!
But what do you like to serve yours with? Comment below 🙂