Cottage pie with blue cheese mash – Tom Kerridge
When I was a kid, my mum used to knock up a great cottage pie and her secret ingredient was a little bit of curry powder. Topped off with cheesy mash and served with buttered peas, it’s my ultimate childhood memory. I admit this version is a bit fancier than Mum’s; it has two types of cooked beef to give it extra dimension and texture – long-winded, perhaps, but definitely worth the effort
- 500g Braising Steak
- 50g Plain Flour
- Vegetable Oil, For Cooking
- 700ml Beef Stock
- 300ml Dark Ale
- 2 Star Anise
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- 500g Minced Beef
- 2 Onions, Finely Diced
- 2 Carrots, Finely Diced
- 2 Celery Sticks, Tough Strings Removed, Finely Diced
- 2 Tablespoons Curry Powder (see P. 290) Or Use A Good Quality Bought One
- Few Splashes Of Worcestershire Sauce
- Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- For The Mash Topping
- 6 Floury Potatoes (King Edward Or Maris Piper), About 1.2kg, Peeled And Diced
- 150ml Milk
- 50g Butter
- ¾ Tablespoon Prepared English Mustard
- 150g Blue Cheese (use Your Favourite), Grated
- 1 Teaspoon Paprika
21/2 – 3 hours
Preheat the oven to 150°C/Gas Mark 2. Cut the braising steak into 2cm dice, dust in flour and shake off the excess. Warm a large frying pan over a medium–high heat, add a little oil and fry the braising steak until it gets a deep, rich colour all over. Drain the steak on some kitchen paper and transfer to a casserole.
Put the frying pan back on the heat and deglaze it with the stock and ale, scraping up any tasty brown bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon, then pour the liquid over the beef in the casserole. Add the star anise and cinnamon stick and bring to the boil. Put the lid on and braise slowly in the oven for 21/2 – 3 hours, until the beef is tender. Leave to cool.
When cool, remove the cooked steak from the casserole with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl in the fridge until needed. Reserve the remaining cooking liquor.
Wipe out the casserole, then place it over a medium–high heat and pour in a thin layer of vegetable oil. Add the minced beef and cook, stirring constantly, until it’s thoroughly browned. The beef shouldn’t be grey, you want it to be dry, roasted and crumbly, the colour of the outside of a beef burger; this should take about 10–12 minutes. Drain in a colander to get rid of any fat, and set aside
Return the casserole to the hob, warm a little more oil over a medium heat, and add the diced vegetables. Cook for 10–12 minutes, stirring from time to time, until they soften. Add the curry powder and stir, making sure the vegetables are thoroughly coated in the spice.
Add the drained minced beef and the reserved braising liquid and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and reduce the stock until it’s nice and thick. Add a few splashes of Worcestershire sauce and season. Leave to cool for 20 minutes.
When the minced beef has cooled a little, stir in the chilled, braised beef and mix thoroughly, but try not to break up the beef too much. Transfer to a large pie dish or ovenproof serving dish and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook the potatoes for 14–15 minutes or until soft. Drain in a colander and leave to steam and air dry a little. Meanwhile, warm the milk and butter in a small saucepan. Either put the cooked potato through a potato ricer into a bowl or mash thoroughly with a hand masher. Beat in the hot milk and butter with a wooden spoon to form a semi-firm mashed potato. Mix in the mustard and season.
Take the chilled beef mixture from the fridge and pipe the mash on top, or spread it and make little peaks with a fork. Sprinkle the blue cheese on top and dust with the paprika. At this point, you can store the cottage pie covered in cling film in the fridge for up to 2 days if you like.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Put the cottage pie on to a baking tray, stick it in the oven and cook for 20–25 minutes until the middle is very hot. Remove from the oven and place under a hot grill, if needed, just to glaze the blue cheese. Serve immediately with buttered peas.
Extract taken from Tom Kerridge’s Best Ever Dishes, published by Absolute Press, £25.00, Hardback
Photography © Christian Barnett