Waiter … an Italian Cottage Pie

Now, as I am not English me and pies … not a long story. We don’t have pies. Covered up food is new to me. Delicious, I admit, but new. But I have pies every time I go to London. Somehow pies become very attractive abroad.It took a while to attempt pies at home. How did it all happen? Blame it on a rainy Sunday, when me and Tamasin Day Lewis got acquainted. I received her book, Tarts with Tops On almost a year ago. To be precise on my birthday last year. So before hitting … well, we’ll keep that a secret, shall we? … I decided it is time to cook a pie.

The event to spur this all on? Waiter … there is something in my pie. Hosted this time around by Cook Sister. An idea started this year, it took off in the food blogosphere and now we are at pies (the February theme).

My pie today? Unlike the tart with the non-top, I cooked an Italian take on the cottage pie. With a top on! Buon appetito.

Italian Cottage Pie (serves 6)
1kg beef (chunks)
3-4tbsp olive oil
a knob of butter
2 onions, chopped
3 sticks celery, chopped
3 carrots, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
240ml milk
240ml white wine (I used red wine)
2x400gr tinned tomatoes
1kg potatoes, mashed
salt, pepper, bay leaves

Heat the olive oil in a deep pan, add the butter, then the onions and garlic. Fry till translucent. Add the celery and the carrots.
Add the meat chunks – I found chunks of beef to be tastier in this dish than minced beef – and fry till brown all over.
Then add the milk and let it all simmer for 20min or until most of the milk is absorbed by the meat. The milk will give the meat a very soft texture.
Add the wine – I definitely went for red as I don’t see white wine working with this – and let it all simmer for another 20min.
Add the tinned tomatoes, bay leaves, season well. I personally like food quite spicy so I also added a couple of whole peppercorns. I might add just a touch of chili next time.
Let it all cook for 3 hours . I see how 3 hours can help the flavors develop, however I let it cook for almost 2 hours, and that was enough. Place the meat in a shallow, oven proof dish.
Prepare the mash with butter and milk. Spread the mash over the meat, glaze with egg and place under the grill for 15min.
Serve. Oh, I am sure an Italian wine will go down well with this dish.

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