- Food & Drink
There was a time when I always knew what we were going to eat for dinner. That time was when my mum was in charge. Sunday was a roast, obviously. If it had been a roast chicken, then there would be chicken soup and dumplings on Monday. Wednesday was cod in parsley sauce day – the square kind of cod that you boil in the bag. We ate them with mash and peas. I loved those square fish.
Thursday was shopping day, which meant spag bol with chunks of buttered French stick (if you haven’t eaten hot spag bol sandwiches, then your sandwich game is incomplete). Thursday was also Good Ice Cream Day – mint choc chip or toffee fudge flavour, with a fake Italian name. On Saturday we’d have a living room picnic. Mum would put out a blanket and we’d sit on the floor in front of the TV, eating lasagne or pizza and drinking Appletiser.
Which only leaves Tuesday and Friday. There were a few dishes in rotation for those days. A barbecue pork casserole made with a Schwartz sachet that I liked so much I asked for it for my birthday tea one year. Sausage hot pot, made to the primary school cook’s recipe. Steak pies with chips. And shepherd’s pie.
Shepherd’s pie was a weekly essential. Baked in deep dish, golden with cheese, it was always served with baked beans. In fact, it was many years after I left home that I realised you can eat shepherd’s pie with something other than baked beans. A menu in a pub enlightened me. They had shepherd’s pie with ‘seasonal green vegetables’. I was stunned. What’s a shepherd’s pie without beans?
When Waitrose asked me to do a post about the meal my mum makes best as part of their #ThanksMum campaign, I knew it had to be shepherd’s pie. I also knew I would make sure there were beans. So I baked them in the pie, which means that if you do want to eat it with green veg you won’t miss out on the beans.
This post is sponsored by Waitrose. From the 24th February to 6th March, Waitrose is running a #ThanksMum competition. To take part, just tell @waitrose about the dish your mum makes that’s special to you on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and hashtag it #ThanksMum and you can win nice things for your mum (and maybe also you). For more details about the competition, click here. For the recipe for an awesome shepherd’s pie, read on.
100g cheddar, grated
2 small leeks
2 small carrots
1 large celery stick
600g minced lamb
A few sprigs of thyme
A dash of Worcester sauce
250ml chicken or vegetable stock
400g tin baked beans
1 Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Peel and chop the potatoes. Add them to the boiling water and simmer for 20 minutes till they’re tender. Drain them and tip back into the pan. Put the pan back over a low heat and mash the potatoes with the butter and a pinch of salt and pepper. When they’re smooth, stir 3/4 of the cheese.
2 While the potatoes are boiling, trim the leeks and finely slice them. Peel and dice the carrots. Trim and dice the celery. Warm a pan for 1-2 minutes, then add a splash of olive oil and the veg. Season well with salt and pepper. Lay a piece of greaseproof paper over the veg. Turn the heat down low, pop a lid on the pan and sweat for 10-15 minutes till soft.
3 Stir the lamb into the veg. Turn the heat up a little and cook and stir the lamb till it’s browned. Add a couple of sprigs of thyme to the pan with a few dashes of Worcester sauce. Pour in the stock. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Take off the lid and simmer for another 10 minutes to cook off most of the liquid.
4 Heat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas 4. Fish the thyme sprigs out of the lamb mince. Stir in the baked beans. Taste and add more salt, pepper or Worcester sauce if you think it needs it. Spoon the mince into an ovenproof dish. Top with the mashed potato, raking and fluffing it with a fork. Scatter over the rest of the cheese. Bake for 35-40 minutes till golden, crisp and bubbling. Serve straight away, with green vegetables if you insist.