March 1st, 2009


The Ultimate Cottage Pie

The inspiration for this dish came from my very first couple of weeks working in contract catering. At first, the change  from restaurants to the contract catering world was fierce as I was facing challenges that I had no time to think about. I had clients that wanted simple classical food cooked well. The first request was for shepherds pie. As I love a challenge I thought about the food that I had been taught to cook in the restaurants.Shepherds pie was outstanding as I used shoulder of lamb that I confit in duck fat for 5 hours.The clients could not stop talking about it as I made shepherds pie super posh and super delicious.

I used the inspiration of that dish to develop the ultimate cottage pie recipe. With this meal I use shin of beef ,instead of mince, and I braise the meat slowly for a long period of time.

Cottage pie is classed as a comfort food, but for me it’s a luxury, as I get to enjoy one of my favourite cuts of meat. I believe that I have managed to put the class back into this retro dish. Succulent slowly braised shin of beef topped with buttery creamy mash, it’s time consuming but worth every minute.

Braised Shin of Beef:
  • 800g shin of beef, de-boned
  • 100g rough diced white onion
  • 100g rough diced celery
  • 50ml sunflower oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 5g salt
  • 30g tomato puree
  • 200g red wine
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • sprig of fresh thyme
  • 1L chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 160°C.

Heat a large casserole dish with the sunflower oil. Generously season the shin of beef with salt and pepper, use your hands to rub it in.

Brown the whole piece of shin of beef until golden, remove from the casserole dish and set aside.

Brown the rough diced onions, celery and whole cloves of garlic to a golden brown.Add the tomato puree and cook for two minutes.

Return the shin of beef to the casserole dish along with the bay leaf, cloves, thyme and de-glaze the dish with the red wine and cook for five minutes.

Add the chicken stock and bring the stock to the boil,turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and cover the casserole dish with a lid. Place the casserole dish in the preheated oven on the middle shelf.  Cook the shin for 3 hours. Stir twice during the cooking.

Once the shin is cooked; remove the casserole dish from the oven let it cool slightly.

Gently remove the warm shin of beef from the stock.

Pass the stock through a sieve. Set the stock aside.

Flake the shin of beef while the meat is still warm, this will ensure that you can remove any sinew successfully. Shin of beef contains a high quantity of natural gelatine and once the meat cools it will solidify and make it difficult to flake the meat. Set the flaked meat aside.

To Finish the Cottage Pie:
  • 100g carrots, 5mm diced
  • 100g banana shallots, 5mm diced
  • 100g leeks, 5mm diced
  • 100g celery, 5mm diced
  • flaked cooked braised shin of beef
  • braising of the shin of beef stock
  • 1tbs olive oil
  • 2tbs chopped mixed soft herbs such as chervil, chives and parsley
  • warm freshly cooked creamy mashed potatoes

Preheat the grill and get 4 pie dishes ready on a baking tray.

Heat a large saucepan with the olive oil, sauté the 5mm diced vegetables until tender but with no colour, add the flaked braised shin of beef, stir and cook for five minutes.

Add a ladle of the braising stock at a time, stir well. Only add enough stock to coat the meat and vegetables. Do not use too much stock  as this will make the cottage pie filling too wet.

Bring the meat to the boil and simmer for 8 – 10 minutes to ensure that the meat is piping hot.

Adjust the seasoning if required and add the mixed chopped soft herbs.

Spoon the piping hot cottage pie filling into the pie dishes and top with the hot creamy mashed potato.

Place the cottage pies under the preheated grill and grill until golden brown. Once the cottage pies are golden and crispy, dust with extra chopped soft herbs and serve.

Makes 4 individual cottage pies

Food Fanatics Tips
The Shin of beef could be cooked in the water bath as follows: place the shin of beef along with 1 clove of garlic, 5g salt, 30g tomato puree, 80g red wine, fresh ground black pepper, 6 whole cloves, 2 bay leaves and a sprig of fresh thyme in a vacuum bag, hard vac. Heat the water bath to 82°C, cook the shin of beef for 12 hours.Once cooked, cool the shin in the bag in ice water. To finish the dish follow the Cottage pie recipe and add all the cooking liquid from the bag plus extra chicken stock to finish the dish.

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One Comment to “The Ultimate Cottage Pie”

  1. René Hjorth says:

    What a brilliant recipe!

    As a Danish chef, I still found that I needed the ultimate cottage pie recipe for comfort feed in the winter.

    This recipe, especially the sous-vide version, are the most perfect cottage pie I have ever made (and tasted)!

    Thank you for a great site!

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