Until only fairly recently, cottage pie, made from minced beef, and shepherd’s pie, made from minced lamb, used to appear with monotonous regularity during the early part of the week as easy ways of using up the leftovers from the Sunday joint. The following recipe delivers a rather special cottage pie.
Fry the pancetta or bacon in a hot frying pan until they are almost crisp, then transfer to a saucepan. Brown the beef mince in the first pan and add them to the saucepan. Add the olive oil to the bacon fat and fry the onion, carrot and garlic in it until soft but not brown, adding them to the saucepan when done.
Deglaze the frying pan with the red wine and add this also, topping up to cover with beef or chicken stock or water. Add the canned tomatoes with their liquid, bay leaf, oregano, Worcestershire sauce and tomato ketchup. Stir, bring to the boil and simmer uncovered over a very low heat for 3 hours, topping up with water if it gets too dry and seasoning to taste halfway through.
Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/ gas 7. Put the contents of the pan into a deep rectangular ovenproof dish, cover it with a topping of the creamy mashed potatoes and brown in the oven, about 20 minutes.
You now have a main course which could sit happily on any decent table in France, where it would be called hachis parmentier.
© 1998 Alastair Little and Richard Whittington estate. All rights reserved.