Thursday, 22 July 2010

Cottage Pie

In an English country ga-arden

From Delia Smith's original How to
Cheat at Cooking, 1971
1 15 oz can of savoury minced beef
1 tablespoon of dried minced onions
1 small green pepper, chopped
1/2 teaspoon of dried mixed herbs
Salt and milled black pepper
1 15 oz can of Italian tomatoes, drained
1 packet of instant mashed potato
2 oz of grated cheddar cheese
Some butter
Preheat over to 350 degrees F (mark 4)

Grease a pie-dish with a butter paper. Mix together the mince, onions, chopped green pepper and mixed herbs. Season with freshly-milled black pepper. Pack the lot into the bottom of the pie-dish and arrange the tomatoes on top. Make up the mashed potato according to the instructions on the packet then beat in the grated cheddar cheese and a knob of butter, and some pepper and salt to taste. Spread the potato over the meat and tomatoes (and make pretty patterns with a fork if you feel like it). Sprinkle the grated Parmesan over and put a few small dabs of butter here and there. Bake it in the oven for 45 minutes.

That's Delia's original recipe. She forgot to list Parmesan in the ingredients. Parmesan, peppers and freshly milled black pepper were very modern and sophisticated in 1971. Peppers never grew in any English cottage garden! You could use Marks & Spencer's superior tinned mince, and a real onion. And, of course, real mashed potatoes as instant mash is revolting, though we thought it was very modern and labour-saving back then. "Grease a pie-dish with a butter paper" - this is never necessary, and it's an instruction left over from the war, when butter and marge were so scarce that you saved your butter papers.

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