Mini Cottage Pies
One of the many reasons my quick Beef and Tomato Ragu is so useful ~ and a great freezer standby is its incredibly versatile. I use it as a base for mini cottage pies, which I bake in the oven. This is a great mid-week recipe, as it can be prepared ahead and then cooked to warm through until bubbling in time for tea. Perfect for nights, with after school clubs, or when supper needs to be on the table quickly. I have topped these with a simple mashed potato, but mixed root veg mashed is delicious too ~ another way to get veggies eaten.
For the Ragu:
2 tablespoons olive oil, or butter
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 carrots, washed, peeled and diced
1 garlic clove, peeled and whole
500g lean mince beef (I use mince with 5% or 10% fat, organic and ideally grass fed beef - buy the best quality you can get)
680g tomato passata, (a standard bottle is 680g - 690g)
For the Mash:
200g potatoes (I use maris piper potatoes which are great for mashing), peel and cube
25g unsalted butter
50ml organic milk
To make the Ragu:
Take a large ceramic pot and add butter/ or oil, then the chopped onion and carrot; gently saute until softened for 10 minutes. Add garlic clove whole, cook for 2 minutes, you remove this at the end to cooking. Next add the mince, breaking it up with a spoon or spatula as you stir. You want the mince to colour but not brown, to avoid toughening the meat. Finally, add the tomato passata and water. Bring up to a gentle boil and then lower heat to a simmer for 1.5 – 2.5 hours. Stirring occasionally. The sauce should reduce, thicken and intensify in flavour.
To make the Mash:
Peel and dice the potatoes, add to a pan of boiling water, cook until completely soft and ready for mashing. Once cooked drain and cover, letting them steam a little. Mash the potato until smooth (I use a potato ricer), add some butter and the cooking liquor from the poached fish to make a lovely creamy mash.
To make the Pies:
Take ramekin dishes, or one large serving dish and fill with a layer of the beef and tomato ragu. Then top with a layer of the mashed potato.
Either cool and then chill in the fridge, to cook later. They would also freeze well at this point (just cover completely and freeze).
Or, to cook immediately preheat the oven to 180C (fan oven) and cook for 20-25 minutes until the mash is nicely browned, the pies are bubbling and piping hot all the way through. Then serve.