I was reading The Sunday Times as is my wont of a weekend and was flicking through the Food section (my favourite) when I spied a pie. A Mona and Ron Wise pie to be exact, Mona and Ron are a couple from Galway who have just published their first book called "The Chef and I" and now write for The Sunday Times, filling the pages full of family-friendly recipes which works with their very busy lifestyle and feeling four hungry kids to boot.
Anyway, back to the pie. Mona calls it a Picnic Pie but I've always known it as a Cottage Pie (without the pastry case). Cottage Pie is one of my favourite comfort foods with minced beef, plenty of onions and delicious gravy, topped with potato. It turns into the most perfect store cupboard pie because chances are you have all the ingredients apart from the pastry and the minced beef and both of those can be bought without too much trouble. By the way, feel free to add mushrooms and peas to the filling - I usually would, but I actually forgot! And another point, if you don't have cooked new potatoes, just chop a large potato into small cubes and cook it along with the onion and carrot.
The trick to making this a success is to use concentrated stock and reduce it so the filling is almost dry - there's plenty of moisture in the vegetables and otherwise the pie will disintegrate into a mushy mess. It is really good the next day because the filling has a chance to firm up. Serve it with some lovely crunchy salad for a delicious lunch or dinner.
Cottage Pie Pie
1 tbsp Rapeseed Oil
2 Onions, roughly chopped
1 Carrot, finely diced
2 cloves Garlic, grated
350g Minced Beef
Salt & Pepper
2 tbsp Lea & Perrins
4-5 cooked New Potatoes, diced
1 Knorr Rich Beef Stockpot
75ml Boiling Water
1 sheet/300g Shortcrust Pastry
Heat the oil gently in a pan, tip in the onion and carrot and fry until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a minute. If you have a massive frying pan, just add the mince. If not, put the cooked veggies into a bowl and fry the mince in the pan until cooked through. Season with salt and pepper while the mince is still pink.
Now preheat your oven to 200c/Gas Mark 6.
Transfer the mince and the cooked veggies to a large pot, add the potatoes, Lea & Perrins, Stockpot and water. Mix well and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes until the sauce has almost vanished. If it hasn't happened, cook it for a further 5 minutes.
Take out a large baking sheet, line with baking paper. Beat the egg in a small cup and grab a pastry brush.
Roll out the pastry sheet and cut in half. Place one half on the lined baking sheet and brush the edges with the beaten egg. Pile the filling onto the middle of the sheet, place the second sheet of pastry over the top and crimp the edges (a fork is the old school way and it's how I do it...). Brush the top of the pastry with the egg and bake for 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden.
Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.