Comfort food at its best. Who can resist potatoes and meat anyway?
This was one dish we used to have regularly at dinnertime when growing up (maybe because it was so easy to make!). I remember my mom would bake it at least 2 to 3 times a month and it's still a favorite, even though she doesn't bake as often as she used to . This is an old English classic casserole and it has many versions now, from many different countries. I think mom stuck to the original version and used only minced lamb and mashed potatoes and that is the way I always used to bake it. That is, until Kanchu aunty came along!
Kanchu aunty, my dad's sister, made this dish for us once and she added other vegetables like carrots also in it, which I thought was a great idea. The picture given below is actually of the pie she baked in our home nearly 2 years ago. I thought the way she arranged the mashed potato in a pretty grid-like pattern was really creative (usually the potato mash is just spread on top of the mince in a layer). It was worth keeping the photo all these years to finally find it's way on this blog!
Please don't expect the original, traditional recipe here. This is the much-modified family one!
Here's the recipe (one of the few my mom forgot to write in my recipe dairy!!):
- Lamb (or even chicken) mince 500 g
- Potatoes 4 big ones
- Onions 1 big, chopped fine
- Garlic 5 flakes, chopped fine
- Mixed vegetables (or just carrots) Chopped fine, 1/2 cup (If you want to increase the health quotient of this, I suppose you can even add bean sprouts!
- Dried herbs (thyme, rosemary) 1 tablespoon
- Flour (maida or cornflour) 1 teaspoon
- Worcester sauce 1 tablespoon
- Meat stock/broth 1 cup (you can use 1-2 stock cubes mixed in 1 cup water also)
- Butter 1 + 2 tablespoons
- Milk 1 cup
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Place the potatoes with enough water to cover, in a pressure cooker, put the lid on, wait for the steam, put the weight on, and simmer after the first whistle for 7-8 minutes.
- When it cools, peel the potatoes and mash them well with 2 tablespoons butter, 1 cup milk, salt, and pepper. It should feel soft and moist to the touch.
- Now heat a pan and add the 1 tablespoon butter.
- When it sizzles, throw in the onions, garlic, mixed vegetables (or just the carrots) and simmer for 5 minutes until the onions and vegetables are cooked.
- Now add in the washed and drained mince, mix well and cook covered till the meat is done (it will lose it's pink sheen and take on a brown tinge)
- Now season with the dried herbs, salt, pepper, Worcester sauce. Fry for a minute or so.
- Add the flour and the stock and stir till it thickens.
- Grease a bake-n-serve dish with a little butter.
- Tilt the mince-vegetable mixture onto it.
- Layer the potato mash on top (dot it with more butter if you like!). Poke all over with a fork or don't just poke, make some designs on it with a fork!
- If you're particularly creative, you can put the potato mash on in different designs, the way Kanchu aunty has done.
- Preheat oven to 200 C and bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the top becomes a gorgeous golden brown that you just can't resist anymore!
PS: Try your best to wait 10 minutes at least before serving. Goes well with garlic bread, but you actually don't need anything else to go with this!