The big difference between shepherd’s and cottage pie is that shepherd’s pie is made with lamb or mutton, whereas cottage pie is made with beef. It’s a technical thing but this is a technical braai website. Logic dictates that you are free to use beef instead of lamb for this recipe, but just remember to refer to the dish as cottage pie then. For the best results use leftover braaied lamb or beef or a mix of the two. In the latter case it’s called a ‘shepherd’s cottage pie’ and it has a bit of a personality disorder, but it still tastes great. This recipe is from my second book ‘JanBraai – Red Hot’ (JanBraai – Vuurwarm) which launches in August 2013. It is the recipe as seen on Episode 2, Series 3 of ‘Jan Braai vir Erfenis’ on kykNET.
For the meat filling:
- 1 tot butter
- 1 onion (finely chopped)
- 2 medium carrots (chopped or grated)
- celery equal in volume to the carrots (chopped)
- 1 tot cake flour
- 1 1/2 cups warm beef or mutton stock
- 500 g braaied lamb meat (de-boned, trimmed of excess fat, and chopped; about 3 cups of chopped lamb meat)
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tot chopped parsley
For the mashed potato topping:
- 4 large potatoes
- enough water for boiling the potatoes in
- 1 tot butter
- 1/2 cup milk
- salt and pepper
WHAT TO DO
- In a flat-bottomed cast-iron potjie on the fire, fry the onion, carrots and celery in the butter for about 5 minutes until soft.
- Add the cake flour and stir in before adding the warm meat stock and stirring that in.
- Now add the meat, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and parsley. Put the lid partially on the potjie (leaving a gap) and simmer gently until the sauce thickens. This can take about 45 minutes but the time will vary widely depending on a number of factors, among them how hot your fire is. During this time, do steps 4 and 5.
- Peel the potatoes and boil them in salted water in a separate pot for about 30 minutes until they are tender. A teaspoon of salt is enough to make the water ‘salted’. I really don’t like peeling potatoes, and thus I usually don’t. If you don’t want to peel them either, then don’t, but at least feel guilty about it.
- When the potatoes are cooked, drain the water and use a potato masher to do the job it’s made for. Add butter and milk to the mashed potatoes, then season with salt and black pepper and mix well. The texture should be smooth and fluffy.
- Back to the potjie of meat on the fire: When the sauce has thickened, take off the lid and top the meat mixture with the mashed potatoes from step 5, spreading the mash into a fairly even layer to cover the surface. It’s entirely acceptable if the top surface of the mash is a bit rough and not completely smooth. In fact, it’s considered stylish.
- Put the lid on the potjie and put lots of hot coals onto the lid. At this stage you don’t want any heat under the pot anymore. Now bake the shepherd’s pie in the potjie like that for the next 20–30 minutes until the top layer becomes slightly golden brown from the hot coals on the lid. You will obviously have to take off the lid to see whether this has happened. Don’t let any ash fall into the potjie, as it won’t add the kind of flavour you’re looking for here. At this point the meal is ready to be enjoyed immediately.
If you don’t have any leftover braaied meat but still want to enjoy this pie, you can successfully substitute the braaied meat with 500 g fresh beef mince bought at a butcher or supermarket. Add your mince after step 1, then fry it for 5–8 minutes until it is nicely brown. Then continue with step 2 where you add the flour and stock, and follow the rest of the recipe (just ignore the part where you would ‘add the meat’ in step 3). It is not advisable to add uncooked mince to the potjie after the stock has been added, as the mince will then boil instead of fry, and the meal won’t taste very nice.
Recipe & photo copyright: JanBraai