09 February 2011


This piece was meant to be a review on a new Japanese eatery in town.  But catching up with a friend over lunch meant that it was all yackity yack.  Before I knew it, we had demolised the starters and halfway through our mains before I remembered to snap a couple of photos.  The hastily snapped pics were rubbish - no amount of manipulation on Picasa could save any.  And seeing that I can't even remember the name of where I ate...

Here's a bit about another pie.  Yep.  Another pie.  One I made for dinner a couple of nights ago.

Had this large hunk of mince beef in the freezer that was threatening death by frost bite if it was there for another few days longer.  Considered gourmet meat balls with pasta, but couldn't be arsed rolling the balls one at a time.  So settled for a pie.  Shepherd's pie, cottage pie - call it what you will.

Yes, yes, I know.  There's a whole debate that its lamb in Shepherd's pie and beef in cottage pie.  British vs American.  Wateva.  Its a mince meat pie.  Not cordon bleu cuisine!

I started with a mirepoix.  Ok...I'm unecessarily fancy here.  A mirepoix is just a flavour base the French use to start a whole range of stew, casseroles and soups.  Its made up of chopped up celery, carrots and onions.  But I'm sure all you foodies know that already!

Anyhow.  Once all that's softened, in went some chopped garlic.  Fry that around a bit, then chuck in the mince and brown it.  After that, in goes some smoked sweet paprika, a tin of tomatoes, salt and pepper.  I didn't add any water or stock 'cos there was quite a bit of liquid just cooking out from the mince and vegetables.  Turn in heat down and slowly cooked the mince until the liquid cooked down (but not dry).  I don't like scooping into a mince pie that's too watery, nor do I like using gelatin or flour to thicken in a pie.

Oh.  Almost forgot this bit - 3/4 of the way through with cooking down the liquid, I put in some mixed frozen vegetables.  I'm not shy about using frozen veges.  Easy and convenient, and essentially 'fresh' since they're snap frozen!  I only put them in at this point c'os I hate overcooked peas.  I like my peas still bright green and spherical.  Not dull green/grey and dented.

The mash was easy.  Everyone's got their own way or 'secret' when it comes to mash.  So it really doesn't matter.  Mine was mashed with both butter and extra virgin olive oil, and some hot milk to un-glugify the mash.  I didn't add anymore salt since I boiled my spuds in salty water.

The topping was a trick I learnt...can't remember when or from whom.  Think it was on tv.  What will we do without the cooking channel I ask you??!  Basically, grate the cheese, then toss a wee bit of breadcrumbs in with the cheese.  You know how grated cheese sometimes clump together?  Well this helps with the declumping.  Make it easier to spread the cheese more evenly on top of the pie.  Once that's done, scatter some more breadcrumbs on top on the pie.  You get a cheesy and super crunchy pie topping from that.

What cheese to use?  Whatever you like I suppose.  As long as you can grate it easily, and it melts nicely.  If you want to go economical, just use Colby or Tasty.  Not Edam.  You want a bit more fat in that cheese for better melting...and okay, lets be honest here.  More fat = yummier taste.  Who are we kidding, right?!

The whole thing then goes into a hot oven until the pie top is golden-ny brown and crunchy.  I leave mine in for just a tad bit longer to get small bits of almost burnt (or sometimes burnt!) crunch.

Ta-ta-dah!  One mince pie.  Served.

Maybe next time I'll post something else other than about food.  Whadya think?


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