Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Wednesday Weekly: Spanish Cottage Pie

Remember how last week I made the suggestion that risotto perhaps wasn't the thing to cook if you were running short on time? As it turns out, cottage pie definitely isn't either. Although I might make it again in the future, it probably won't be for a long time -- it took me nearly four hours to do! Granted, this lengthy extension in time was almost entirely my fault: I was the idiot who forgot to take the meat out last night!

The great thing about this recipe is that, like the last couple that I've done, it uses ingredients that you'll probably already have -- the only thing you may need to pick up is the red wine. Despite including some not-favourites of mine (onion, celery, tomatoes -- I'm looking at you), this week I more-or-less followed the recipe perfectly. I did make one or two alterations based on personal preference, but I don't think they would have otherwise impacted the flavour of the pie.

Here are some of the ingredients you'll need. If you look at the actual ingredient list, you'll see that a couple items aren't included: the meats, the chicken stock and the milk. There's no real reason for this except that I forgot about them! Another good thing about this recipe is that you'll use most of these ingredients at the one time, so you don't need to worry too much about method.

I must remember not to call this 'kransky'.
Frying chorizo is one of the easiest bits, but you want to make sure that you do it well. I took this photo early on, so it had only just begun to sizzle, but you basically want to cook the chorizo until it has sort of concaved on one side. The meat may crisp up a bit, but it shouldn't burn.
In case you're interested, I'm cooking this in my electric frypan (or, technically, wok). It is the Breville Avance Gourmet Wok, which I think may have been re-branded as the Hot Wok - 6 Litre Family Size. I was chatting to my good friend Danielle (the one, of course, from the amazing Confessions of a Beauty School Dropout) about it the other day and, honestly, I cannot recommend it enough -- it is my favourite cooking appliance to use! If something calls for a frypan, I tend to reach for this instead, as I've got this amazing ability to burn absolutely anything with ease. The non-stick is still perfect after years of use, and I've never had to soak it or scrub it. Being electric, it plugs straight into the wall socket, so I also don't need to worry about immediately cleaning any spills I make on the stovetop. It is simply amazing!

Great work, Sarah.
This is what mess me up the most: cooking the meat. This wasn't because of any culinary techniques, it wasn't to do with the meat itself -- it was because I was an idiot and forgot to take the meat out of the freezer until about 1pm. You can still cook with the meat if it's frozen, it just takes much, much longer -- and you often have to cook with one gigantic lump, as seen above. In my case, I had to work with two.

Once you chuck everything into the frypan, you let it simmer for an hour! The thing about this electric frypan is that doesn't keep food at a constant simmer, but rather, it reaches the desired temperature and switches off. This isn't a mechanical fault -- it keeps your food hot and switches back on to reheat once it's sensed the heat drop below what you want it be. I found that the saucey mix still reduced, but because it doesn't simmer (or I haven't figured out how to make it simmer), it is possible that it needed a little longer.


What do you get when you boil some potatoes, mush it all up, plop it on top and stick it in the oven? A delicious cottage pie! I find that, if you make the mashed potato with real potatoes, it's best to use an appliance to get out all the lumps. I used the Kenwood Triblade Hand Blender HB724, using the mashing/pureeing attachment. It just makes everything much, much quicker than using one of those old school hand mashers, and you can get the delicious smooth consistency of instant mash!

Even though it ended up taking all afternoon to make, I was very pleased with the end result. It was tasty, flavoursome and the mashed potato cut through some of the richness. The consistency, while not soupy per se, did not hold on its own -- you definitely need to eat this in a bowl! -- but, as this was my first attempt, I figured that I'd be pretty pleased with a pie that had a filling of that consistency.

This recipe came from the same magazine that I've worked from over the last few weeks, but unfortunately it's disappeared in the disaster zone I call my bedroom, so I went online to get it. If you can't be bothered checking out an external website, I've included it below. Here are a few things to consider when making it:
  • Although I left in the onion, I opted to leave the celery out.
  • Instead of 2 crushed garlic cloves, I used to teaspoons of minced garlic. I find that this is just a quicker way to cook.
  • My mum and I aren't fans of tomatoes (although, we eat tomato sauce, which is weird) so, instead of a can of crushed tomatoes, I decided to use a 415g can of condensed tomato soup. This may have been the cottage pie a little more liquidy, but I don't think it compromised the taste.
  • The recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of tomato paste -- as you can see, I've got a 170g can in my picture. I decided to use the whole lot, because I'd rarely have any use for the little bit that would be left over.
  • The recipe does call for smoked paprika, but I just used the regular ground paprika. I don't think that this made any huge difference to the flavour.
  • You only need one chorizo, and you're supposed to chop it up into little bits. However, I couldn't be bothered, so I just sliced. I think I preferred it this way, as I've decided that I'm not chorizo's biggest fan, and I might have been slightly put off my tiny bits of chorizo in my dinner.
  • I ended up using about a kilo of pork/veal mince instead of 750g -- this is because packaged mince comes in roughly 500g lots. I actually think that the recipe turned out better because of it; it otherwise may have been too soupy.
  • Make sure you take your meat out of the freezer the night before!

Spanish Cottage Pie

Serves 6


  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 chorizo, coarsely chopped
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 750g pork and veal mince
  • 400g can crushed tomatoes
  • 250ml (1 cup) of red wine
  • 250ml (1 cup) of chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 400g can lentils, rinsed, drained
  • 1.2kg of Golden Delight potatoes, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 80ml (1/3 cup) milk, warmed
  • 60g butter, coarsely chopped


  1. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a large, deep frying pan over medium heat. Add chorizo. Stir for 5 minutes or until crisp. Transfer to a plate. Heat remaining oil in pan over low heat. Add onion, carrot and celery. Stir for 5 - 7 minutes or until softened. Stir in garlic for 1 minute.
  2. Increase heat to medium-high. Add mince. Cook for 5 minutes or until the mince changes colour. Stir in chorizo, tomato, wine, stock, tomato paste, thyme, paprika and bay leaves. Bring to the boul. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour or until sauce is thick. Stir in the lentils and season. Spoon the mince mixture into a 3L (12 cup) ovenproof dish.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180C / 350F / Gas Mark 4. Cook potato in a saucepan of boiling water for 13 - 15 minutes or until tender. Drain. Cool for 2 - 3 minutes. Return to the pan. Add the milk and 40g of the butter. Mash until smooth. Season.
  4. Spread potato mash over the mince mixture. Dot with the remaining butter. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden.
And there you have it -- a recipe for a very delicious cottage pie. Although it takes awhile, you can actually make it ahead of time and freeze it!

Have you made cottage pie before? Do you have any recipes I should try out? Let me know!

Sarah xo


  1. Living near the US/Mexico border, everyone makes chorizo seem like such a regional thing, so it's bizarre realizing that you cook with it in Australia too! I love that the wok turns off automatically once it hits the desired temperature, especially because I'm great at making things like salads and smoothies...cooked food, not so much.

    1. Ooh, really? Chorizo is a pretty commonplace food item here, you can buy it readily everywhere. That's the other great thing about the wok -- I don't burn everything! I mean, it is possible to do, unfortunately it's not idiot-proof, but my chances are pretty good. I would cook everything in it, if I could.

  2. Oh my gosh that sounds incredible, and it looks divine! I could so eat this right now xx

    Gemma //

    1. It really was delicious, so if you ever give it a try, let me know how it turns out! :)