Moroccan-spiced cottage pies

Moroccan-spiced cottage pies

For unknown reasons, I have never made an English-styled pie, where a saucy meaty filling is topped with mashed potatoes and baked in the oven. Clearly, I was missing out.

On my way back from a work-related trip to Lausanne, I was scanning the BBC goodfood magazines on my iPad, and stumbled upon a recipe for a pie with a Moroccan twist. Novelty on two accounts, perfect. Since I had all the ingredients, apart from the beef mince and the floury potatoes already at home, I decided to give it a try.

The recipe is certainly not labour-intensive, but it takes some time, as the beef mince needs some time to simmer, and the assembled dish will spend 30 minutes in a hot oven. Because I knew that the boyfriend will come home famished, I also made a quick leek soup with thyme croutons for a starter, so that we don’t have to wait too long to eat.

This is a brilliant recipe. The one single thing I changed was to reduce the number of cloves from 10 to 5, as I was afraid it would overpower the dish. In the end, perhaps I could have added a few more, but I still think 10 was too many. The overall flavour is well balanced, there is not one thing sticking out. Surely a recipe to repeat.

You can find the original recipe here.

Ingredients
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
pinch of cayenne pepper
10 cardamom pods, green pods discarded and black seeds ground
5 cloves, ground
2 tsp cinnamon
500g lean beef mince
1 tbsp tomato purée
500ml beef or chicken stock
1kg floury potatoes, such as Maris Piper
400g can chickpeas
75g butter
4 tbsp milk
3 tsp za’atar
200g frozen peas
small pack parsley, chopped

Procedure
1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onion, garlic, carrot, spices and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook for 10-15 mins on a low heat until softened. If the onion starts to brown, add a splash of water.

3. Meanwhile, cook the mince in a large frying pan until brown and starting to caramelise. Stir the beef in with the onion, add the tomato purée and stock, and simmer for 30 mins until most of the stock has been absorbed.

4. While the beef is cooking, peel and cut the potatoes into chunks. Tip into a saucepan and cover with cold salted water. Bring to the boil, then turn down and simmer for 20 mins. Drain the potatoes and mash together with the chickpeas, butter, milk and za’atar.

5. Stir the peas into the mince and simmer for 2 more mins, then take off the heat and stir in the chopped parsley. Divide between 4 small freezer-proof pie dishes. Top each with mashed potato and rough up the top with a fork.

5. If serving straight away, put the pies on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 30 mins. To freeze, leave the pies to cool completely, then wrap well in cling film and foil. To cook from frozen, put the pies on a baking tray in a cold oven, turn to 160C/140C fan/gas 3 and cook for 1 hr-1 hr 20 mins until piping hot.

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