Durban weather can hardly say it has much of a winter. Recently, however, despite the ever-shining sun and clear blue skies, there has been a little bit of a nip in the air. Some people prefer to have coffee and tea to keep them warm during the cold spells however; I am a bit different, I look to food for that. My appetite and meals are generally run by the weather. Yes, I am one of those fussy people who prefer to eat cold and light foods when it is hot outside and, steamy warm and heavy foods when it is cold. Some might agree with me, and others might think I am just full of it because, when you are hungry it doesn’t matter what you eat.
Everyone at home works 8am – 5pm jobs and to make our home functional, we plan in advance and, sometimes the weatherman doesn’t get his weekly forecasts right. However, this week he has been spot on with his predictions and this week’s recipe was exactly what I needed. Cottage pie made a warm and welcoming appearance on our table and is another family winner. It always pops up on the menu when ‘winter’ comes around.
It’s an easy meal to put together and doesn’t require much time or patience (something I am trying to learn). In the good old days, Mom and Dad used to make Cottage pie by simmering the meat in beef stock but, nowadays there are fantastic sachets you can buy in grocery stores that help add the necessary flavours faster. The only thing you should never compromise on is the mash potatoes. Always make your mash potatoes from scratch and don’t fall into the powdered mash category. It is seriously not even close to the taste of real mash and is not as wholesome – please believe me on that!
Try this rustic meal out when you have cold weather looming in – it’s appreciated a lot more. It uses staple ingredients you should have lying around (and if not, they are not expensive to purchase). The preparing of this dish can be done the day before and, heated through and browned the next evening. Otherwise if you not one to plan ahead, it can also be made on the spot.
3 – 4 Large potatoes
1 tsp Crushed garlic
3 Medium onions
1 Kg Beef mince
300 ml Boiling water
1 Sachet Knorr Cottage Pie mix (or 1 beef cube)
½ Cup of milk
1 Tbsp margarine (or butter)
1 Tsp Sunflower oil1 tsp Italian herbs
Salt and pepper to taste
Time: 40 minutes
Roughly chop 2 and half onions. On a medium to high heat; heat oil in pot and fry onions until translucent and golden brown. Add garlic and then mince. The meat will make a layer on the bottom of pan, avoid stirring the mince until you can see the meat become white/grey along the sides. This will help brown and ‘colour’ the mince (especially if you are using beef stock instead of a sachet). Once at this stage, break up the mince and stir it around to cook further. Once cooked through add Italian herbs, dissolve the sachet or beef stock cube in boiling water and pour the contents in the mince dish. Stir in, lower the heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes or until most of the liquid has disappeared. If you are using the beef stock, add a bit of salt and pepper to taste. In the meantime, peel potatoes, boil until soft then drain. Place back in pot and mash. Mash in margarine (or butter), then the milk (in small amounts) until the mash is smooth. For extra flavour in the mash, finely chop half onion and add to potatoes along with salt and pepper to taste.
Once mince mixture has simmered, place in an oven proof bowl. Leave to cool for 5 minutes and then layer the mash lightly on top (don’t want the mash to sink underneath the mince). Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Place dabs of margarine on top of mash. Place in oven until mash is crisp and golden brown.
If you want to bulk up the mince mixture add some vegetables like carrots, corn and peas.
For something extra on the mash, sprinkle some breadcrumbs on top or grated cheddar cheese.