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Bung-it Pie

Yesterday was my birthday. I had planned to make this meal yesterday but I dragged a very patient fiancé shopping to turn my birthday money into a pile of loot so we landed up at Nandos for an evening feast instead.

Having stuffed our faces with peri peri chicken wings and sweet potato mash we came home and I decided to pre-prep my original menu for tonight instead (partly because I had all the  ingredients and partly because one of my purchases was a set of le  Creuset bean pots that I’ve been coveting and they are so pretty they had to be used). This recipe is actually based onSophie Dahl’s Shepherd’s pie with champ but the beauty of this dish is that you can use it to finish off any veg you have, hence the title (you can bung anything in the cupboard in it).

Bung-it Pie

I had tomatoes and a courgette that needed to be used but you can put any veg in and change the ratio of veg to mince to suit. I’ve noted where an ingredient can be swapped for something else or removed as a guide.

Champ topping

  • 3 floury potatoes
  • small handful frozen peas
  • knob of butter
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • 30ml milk
  • 75g extra mature cheddar, broken into chunks
  • pinch of smoked paprika

For the filling

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into small pieces
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 courgette chopped into small pieces (optional)
  • 400g tinned tomatoes (or 4-6 fresh tomatoes, chopped and a tbsp of tomato puree)
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 medium red chilli chopped (or ½ tsp tabasco)
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 80ml red wine
  • 100ml veg stock
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary (or 1/2 tsp of dried rosemary)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar if you don’t have any balsamic)
  • 250g beef mince (or lamb mince)
  • sea salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. For the champ topping, heat a pan of salted water, add the potatoes and bring gently to the boil, then simmer until the potatoes are nearly cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.

For the filling, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and gently fry the chopped onion, garlic, carrots and celery for 5-10 minutes, until softened. Turn the heat up and add the mince. Fry until browned and then add the courgette, chilli and garlic and fry for a further minute.  Add the  remaining filling ingredients, turn down the heat slightly and simmer until the sauces has reduced and veg is soft.

When the potatoes are almost cooked, add the frozen peas and cook for a few more minutes until the peas are tender (you can make your mash ahead or use left over mash in which case you can just boil the peas separately). Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat and fry the spring onions  for 2min. Add the milk and heat through. Drain the potatoes and peas and mash roughly. Add the warm milk mixture to the potatoes and continue to mash until combined but still chunky. Spoon the beef mixture into a medium pie dish or individual pie dishes and top with the champ. Poke the bits of cheese into the mash and sprinkle with smoked paprika. Bake the pie for 25-30 minutes, or until the potato is golden-brown. If you have made the filling ahead of time and its cool it make take slightly longer to heat through (test the middle by inserting a butter knife and touching quickly against your lip to make sure its hot).

For the pudding half of my birthday menu I decided to try a Pannacotta recipe from Gordon Ramsay’s Healthy Appetite.  Its light and refreshing after a heavy meal which is a refreshing change from recent sweet things I’ve made and as a result is going on my list for Christmas pudding options! The original recipe has a blueberry sauce but I had some strawberry sauce in the freezer which I used instead.

Strawberry Pannacotta

Serves 6

  • 600ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out (keep pod)
  • 125g castor sugar
  • 4 sheets of gelatine
  • 200ml natural yoghurt
  • 250g strawberries
  • 3 tbsp honey/syrup/sugar
  • squeeze of lemon juice

Put the milk, sugar, vanilla seeds and pod in a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves and then bring to a simmer. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water to soften.

As soon as the milk starts to bubble remove from the heat, drain and squeeze the gelatine leaves and add to the milk. Stir until dissolved and then leave to cool. Strain through a fine sieve (must be fine otherwise you will have bits of vanilla pod which doesn’t affect taste but looks a bit odd).

Once completely cool, add the yoghurt to the milk and pour into 6 pannacotta moulds (I used ramekins as I didnt have these). Cover with cling film and chill for a few hours or overnight.

Boil the berries, sugar/honey and lemon juice until syrupy and cool. To serve, turn the pannacotta out or serve in the moulds with the sauce.

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