Tag Archives: Beef

Comfort Cottage Pie

The weather’s suddenly turning a little colder here, you can see the snow on the Pyrenees and we’re lighting fires most days – no central heating @ Chez Foti:-(. So it’s time to bring on the cold weather food. Yipppppeeee.  It’s a close call but I’m reckoning I love all those winter warming slow cooked stews, casseroles, roasts and pies more than summer food.  They reach out and give you a big foodie hug just when you need one. And rich comforting cottage pie, done right with a bit of care and attention, is my winter food heaven.  Love it, the kids love it, everyone loves it don’t they?

Normally when I’m making meaty sauces or bases I bulk out the meat with lots of veggies, but there’s something about keeping a cottage pie intensely beefy and simple, refraining to mess too much. My one veggie addition though is the humble parsnip. Added to the potato topping with a little horseradish, you get a little sweet kick, that’s oh so lovely against the beef.  And horseradish and beef are obviously a match made in foodie heaven!

Enough for 4 adults, (or like us, enough for a family of 4, with portions left over for the kids to eat the next day):

olive oil

1 large onion, finely diced

2 small carrots, finely diced

1 celery stalk, finely diced

600g good quality lean beef mince (preferably from a butcher who can mince the meat in front of you)

1 heaped tbsp plain flour

1 large glass of red wine

1 heaped tbsp of tomato puree

500ml beef stock

1 tsp of worcester sauce

2 bay leaves

3 sprigs of thyme

salt & pepper

For the topping:

620g potatoes, peeled and chopped

350g parsnips, peeled and chopped

2 tsp cream horseradish

70g butter

50ml milk

salt & pepper

In a large saucepan heat a good glug of olive oil and add the onion, carrots and celery.  Cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until soft, stirring regularly.

Turn up the heat and add the beef.  Cook for about 5 minutes until browned.

Add the red wine, turn down the heat a little and cook until the wine has nearly all evaporated. Add the flour, stir briskly then immediately add the tomato puree, beef stock, bay leaves, thyme, worcester sauce and seasoning. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile pre-heat your oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6, and make your potato topping.

In a large pan of boiling water boil the potatoes and parsnips until soft. Drain and allow them to steam  and dry out for a few minutes. Mash with the butter, milk and horseradish.  Season to taste.

Place the beef in an openproof dish (remembering to remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs).  Spoon on the mash. I like to shape my mash with the back of a fork, as that’s what my mum’s always done.

Bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes until golden on the top (and if it’s not you can always pop it under the grill for a few minutes).

Serve piping hot with a nice green veg on the side.  We had ours with steamed home grown broccoli. Enjoy your winter warming food hug!  Here’s Jacques getting down to a bit of serious eating with his Oogaa bowl and train spoon:

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The Best Chilli con Carne ever!

This is a truly great recipe for chilli that I’ve adapted slightly from Allegra McEvedy’s Leon cookbook. Bursting with flavour and stuffed full of spices (and not just the normal chilli) it’s a real winter warming dinner.  Although it’s not particularly hot, if you don’t like much heat to your food tone down the chilli a little or omit altogether, which is something I often do so the kids can enjoy it with us too.

Using braising beef rather than mince also make this extra special; not only tastier and healthier, it’s great to know exactly what meat you’re eating!  I used pumpkin instead of carrots, which happily added a lovely sweet note to the chilli.

Please beware, this is not a quick chilli to make!.  It requires marinading the beef, preferably overnight, and a good few hours of cooking. So well worth it though!

Enough for 4-6 (depending on how greedy you want to be!)

1 heaped tsp dried chilli flakes

2½ tsp ground cumin

2 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp cinnamon

5 sprigs of thyme

5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

500g braising beef, cut into 2cm chunks

3 tbsp olive oil

1 heaped tsp cumin seeds

1 heaped tsp coriander seeds

½ red chilli, thinly sliced

2 large onions, diced

2 carrots or equivalent of squash or pumpkin, diced

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

2 x 400g tins of kidney beans

salt & pepper

Firstly you need to marinade your meat for at least a few hours, preferably overnight.  Into a large bowl put the dried chilli, ground cumin, oregano, cinnamon, thyme and a couple of the sliced garlic cloves.  Mix together and add the beef.  Using your hands rub the spices into the beef and leave to marinade in the fridge.

Heat the olive oil in a very large saucepan or casserole.  Add the cumin and coriander seeds and cook on a gentle heat until you can smell the spices. Add the marinaded beef and thyme to the pan turning every few minutes. Fry until the beef has browned on all sides.

Add a little salt to the pan, as well as the fresh chilli, remaining three sliced garlic cloves, onions and carrots (or squash or pumpkin).  Stirring often continue to cook for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, cook for a further 10 minutes.  Now add the kidney beans. Pour in enough water to just cover and gently simmer for an hour with the lid on.

Take off the lid and simmer for up to another hour.  The chilli is ready when the beef is completely tender and sauce nicely thickened.  If the sauce becomes too dry add a little more water.

Once finished adjust the seasoning to taste.

Great served with rice and a big dollop of sour cream on top of the chilli. Divine.


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