Cottage Pie v Shepherd’s Pie: the former is made with beef and the latter, lamb. It makes sense really, doesn’t it?
Lamb = sheep = shepherd?
The cottage pie, however, predates shepherd’s pie by about a century and apparently came about sometime late in the 18th century, when wives in poorer households tried to make the Sunday roast go further by using the leftover meat and covering it with the newly introduced cheap crop, potato. The homes of the poor were known as cottages, hence the name “cottage pie”.
There is something so satisfying about the combination of hot mash and deliciously flavoured mince. I’ve taken it a step further here, combining two popular British favourites – mash and curry! The image below shows you the curried meat base.
The meat filling here is basically a very dry mince curry, just a little more tomato-ey than usual, given my penchant for tomato based ragu. Now I might have mentioned on the odd occasion or two that I tend to specialise in amuse-bouche recipes when I cater. This particular recipe is always a hit as an amuse-bouche for both the flavour and the presentation. I am currenty working on a book of amuse-bouche and canapés but as that’s not coming out for another year or so, I thought I’d share this fabulous “full size” recipe with you.
I’ve divided the recipe into 2 parts, the cooking of the mince and mash is part 1, with part 2 being the baking of the whole pie. In this post, the images are all for individual portions (image below) or served in little amuse-bouche portions. To make a big pie, you’ll need a deep baking dish measuring about 30cm x 22cm (12″ x 9″).
Handy Hints for Masala Cottage Pie
Fresh or frozen will do, I prefer frozen. The trick to keeping your peas looking as fresh as possible is to add them right at the end, in this case, right after you’ve turned the heat off. In fact, I do this whenever I use peas.
Up the green chilli as well as the chilli powder for a spicier result.
Omit the cardamom & cloves if you don’t want to accidentally bite into them or don’t want to hunt them out before assembly. The cinnamon should be easy enough to spot.
I know the ingredient list looks very long, doesn’t it? Don’t be put off by it, it really is just a list of spices, mainly. You could be lazy and substitute the coriander, cumin, turmeric and chilli powder with the equivalent amount of curry powder, altogether.Print
A delightful twist on an old favourite, Masala Cottage Pie brings you 2 British favourites!
- 500g lean minced beef
- 1 large onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 5cm/2″ ginger
- 1 green chilli
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 2 cardamoms
- 2 cloves
- 1 tbs ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- half tsp turmeric powder
- half tsp chilli powder
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 200g can of chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 250mls light beef stock (half strength)
- 1 tsp salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 5 large floury potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
- 50g butter
- 50ml single cream
- 100ml full fat milk
- salt and pepper
- 200g Cheddar cheese, grated (strength, your choice, I go for mild, so as not to compete with the meat filling)
- Chop the onion, garlic, ginger and green chilli either by hand, or place them all in a food chopper, my preferred method.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium high heat and sauté the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cardamom and cloves for 30 seconds.
- Add the onion mix and fry on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes until you get a lovely aroma out of your pan.
- Add the masala powders (coriander, cumin, turmeric & chilli powder) and cook for another 30 seconds.
- Increase the heat to high and add the meat, crumbling it up as you brown it and mix it in with all the lovely onion mixture. Keep cooking the beef for about 5 minutes until any liquid has pretty much dried up but we don’t have to be fastidious about this.
- Sprinkle the flour all over and work it in well, about 10 seconds of stirring.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, stock and salt and bring it to boil. Cook at a simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, at which time, it should all have thickened up. If there is still a lot of liquid, increase the heat to “dry it up”.
- Taste seasoning, turn the heat off and remove the bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamoms and cloves.
- While the beef is cooking, let’s get the mash done. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan filled with cool salted water and bring to boil. Simmer until tender.
- Drain well, then leave to steam dry for a couple of minutes.
- Mash well with the butter, cream, half the milk and a little salt and pepper. Add more milk only if necessary.
- Check seasoning, then fold in half the cheese with a wooden spoon. The cheese ought to soften and blend in quite a bit as you fold it in.
- Heat the oven to 220˚C (Fan 200˚C)/425˚F.
- Spoon the beef mixture in to the baking dish, levelling it.
- Top with the mash.
- Sprinkle the rest of the cheese all over and bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes until golden and bubbling at the edges.
Get all the ingredients, especially the dry spices ready before you start cooking.
- Serving Size: 6