Years ago, I had several ‘plain eaters’ who used to come for dinner, and I was always in a frenzy of anxiety about what to feed them. I finally came up with this pie, which, although it looked like a cottage pie, had a few extra ingredients to add a more luxurious touch. It’s always proved popular, even amongst the more adventurous types! It has that ‘nursery-food’ vibe, which is always a hit.
We’re particularly fond of it on cold winter’s days.
Mr Saturday Night would eat this every week of the year, if I didn’t believe in ‘seasonal eating’!
- 3-pint pie dish
- saucepan to cook potatoes
- pan to cook meat
- electric beater
- cheese grater
- 500g of good quality beef mince.
- 125g streaky bacon, finely chopped or minced
- 15-20ml plain flour
- decent-sized glass of red wine
- 150ml beef stock
- 1/2 tsp mixed herbs (I use whatever’s around, there’s always thyme and bay in the garden; or dried herbs are fine too) If you’re using a whole bay leaf, be sure to remove it before topping the pie with potatoes.
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- 1 onion, chopped
For the topping:
- 750g nice floury potatoes (Maris piper or Roosters are good), peeled.
- 100ml warmed milk
- 2 eggs, separated
- 75g cheddar cheese, grated
- 50g butter
- Salt and pepper, to taste.
- Fry the mince and bacon until the fat runs,
- Add the onions and cook over a moderate heat until the meat browns and the onions have softened (about 10 minutes)
- Mix in the crushed garlic and herbs.
- Add the wine and let it bubble up and reduce
- Add the flour, and stir in well with a wooden spoon, allow to cook for a minute
- Add the stock, gradually at first, and then quite quickly, until it’s all blended in.
- Season with S+P
- Pour the meat into the pie dish, cover with tin foil and keep warm in a moderate oven (about 160) until the potatoes are ready.
- Put the potatoes on to boil, they will take 20-30 minutes to cook. If you’re making this for today’s dinner, you can get the spuds peeled and on to boil, while you’re looking after the meat end of it.
- When cooked, drain and mash the potatoes well, then add the hot milk, grated cheese, butter and parsley and beat well.
- Add the two egg yolks and beat again
- Adjust seasoning as required
- Whip the egg whites until stiff, and then fold one spoonful into the potato to loosen it, and then fold in the remainder.
- put the potatoes on top of the meat, and smooth over, make lines with a fork if you like (my Mother always did, so I do too; the ridges go lovely and crispy in the oven)
- Put back into the oven for 30 mins or until it’s slightly puffed up, and a golden brown colour.
- You can make this up in advance and let it go cold, then heat in the oven for 50 mins to an hour. The eggs keep the potatoes from going soggy.
- I like to serve this with French beans, steamed for about 5 mins, then mixed with some butter and a crushed garlic clove in the hot saucepan
- I make this sometimes as a family dinner dish, but I don’t do the posh potatoes, just ordinary mash, or champ if I’m feeling generous. If you think the kids won’t like the wine, just leave it out and make up the difference with stock or water. However, if they don’t know it’s there, they’ll just learn to appreciate the improved flavour…