Cottage pie is a classic British dish. Stewed beef mince cloaked in mashed potato and baked in the oven until hot and oozy. Wintry comfort food which is tasty, but somewhat lacking in vegetable content. Here in the UK we are being urged to eat more vegetables, and sometimes it is difficult to ensure enough are eaten without resorting to the same old standbyes such as steamed veggies, boiled veggies or salad.
Bubble and Squeak is another classic British dish. It's a Monday institution, having been made from the leftover cooked vegetables from Sunday lunch for generations. The cooked vegetables are mashed together loosely, put into a hot pan and fried.
The more you mash it, the more indistinct the individual vegetables' character becomes, a great way of hiding vegetables from fussy eaters. (I'm not suggesting for a minute that there are young children who look out for the particular colours and flavours of vegetables so that they might turn their noses up, saying "why can't we have chips? Veg is horrible!")
On the other hand, light mashing means the vegetables maintain some of their texture and structure, allowing their presence to be discerned. Bubble and Squeak (sometimes simply called "bubble") makes a pleasing accompaniment to an undemanding dinner on a Monday night. Just what you need after getting over the first day of the week and the rigours of going back to work after the weekend.
My thought was why not put these two iconic dishes together? Oozy stewed beef mince and baked mix mash topping. Healthy, comforting and cheap. If you were to make double the quantity of the filling, you could cook one batch and freeze the other so that you can save time on a weekday night.
As Del Boy (from Only Fools and Horses) might say "lovely jubbly!". Del, that famous denizen of Peckham, which is just down the road from me, is the inspiration for the name of the dish.
Lovely Bubbly Cottage Pie
You will need:
An oven proof dish to cook the pie in.
A baking sheet to make taking the oven proof dish out of the oven at the end much easier.
A saucepan for making the filling.
A saucepan for boiling the bubble topping vegetables.
Serves 4 people as a main
For the Bubble and Squeak topping:
3-4 potatoes (depending on size), peeled and cooked
1 handful each of the following cooked vegetables:
(can be replaced with most leftover veg from Sunday lunch)
A dribble (around 1 tbsp) of milk
For the Cottage Pie filling:
500g beef mince
1 carrot, very finely diced
1 onion, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp Worcester sauce
1 tbsp Mushroom Ketchup (optional)
300ml hot beef stock
1 tbsp beef gravy granules stirred into the stock
Olive oil for frying; between 1 tbsp and 2 tbsp
1. Preheat the oven to 170 deg C (fan oven setting), or I would estimate that 150 deg C on a non-fan setting would be equivalent.
2. If you have not cooked your Bubble & Squeak topping vegetables, including the potatoes, then cook them now.
3. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan.
4. Add the onion and carrot. Fry, without browning, for 5 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking.
5. Add the crushed garlic, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, lowering the heat if needed to prevent the garlic burning.
6. The beef mince should go in now, and the heat may need to be raised to help the meat change colour. The beef should be browned all over.
7. All the liquid ingredients should then be added (stock with gravy granules, tomato puree, Worcester sauce, mushroom ketchup). Stir thoroughly.
8. Turn the heat down to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes.
9. Mash up the vegetables for the bubble topping to whatever consistency you prefer.
10. Put the oven proof dish on the baking sheet. Empty the simmered beef filling into the oven proof dish.
11. Now you will need to top the beef with the mashed bubble topping. Take care and don't be heavy handed or it will sink to the bottom. If you are better at presentation than I am, do feel free to use a piping bag to pipe out onto the top of the pie. Smooth out as best as you can if you are not using a piping bag.
12. Put into the hot oven for 30 minutues, plus another 5 if needed.
Serve and enjoy!