Cottage Pie with Three Cuts of Beef

Posted By Stephen


After our big success cooking shepherd’s pie with more than one cut of lamb, we decided to try the same with beef using minced beef, beef shin and calve’s liver.  We topped it with mashed potatoes with a little mashed cauliflower mixed into it for some extra flavour, and brushed with egg wash to give it a golden top.  Served with some broccoli and anchovy butter.

It turned out well, but not as brilliantly as our shepherd’s pie had previously.  It could be that the kidneys just gave it a lot more flavour last time than the liver did this time, or the stock we used last time was better.  Or we just cooked it better somehow last time.

The recipe goes something like this:

500g beef mince
250g beef shin, diced
250g calves liver, diced
a handful of flour seasoned with salt and pepper
1 onion finely chopped
2 stalks of celery finely chopped
1 carrot, finely diced
1 tbs tomato puree
500ml beef stock
250ml red wine
Ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper
3 anchovies (optional)
A few springs of thyme, leaves only
A small bunch of parsely, chopped
4 medium sized potatoes
Half a small head of cauliflower (optional)
1 egg, beaten

Add a little oil to a medium sized saucepan and add the onion on a low heat.  Stir it around a bit, then put on the lid and let it sweat for a few minutes.  Then add the carrot and celery, and replace the lid, letting it all sweat for about 15 minutes, stirring often.

Season the mince with salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Heat some oil in a large saucepan on a medium to high heat and brown the mince.  When it is brown, drain off any fat that has cooked out of the mince and reserve the mince on a plate.  Deglaze the saucepan with a little wine, reserve the wine, and add more oil to the saucepan.  Coat the diced beef shin in the seasoned flour, then brown that.  When that is done, remove it to the plate and deglaze, again keeping the liquid.  Add a little more oil, coat the liver in seasoned flour and brown that too.

Once the liver is brown, turn the heat down to low and return the rest of the meat to the pan, along with the reserved wine from deglazing.  Add a little more salt and pepper, the bay leaves, anchovies, thyme and parsely and add the sweated vegetables too.  Stir this around a bit to incorporate it all, then add the tomato puree too and stir it in; this usually gives it all a nice sheen.

Pour in the rest of the wine and the beef stock and cover.  Simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally.  If it dries out, add some more water.  Then remove the lid and simmer for another half an hour to an hour to cook off any excess liquid.  During this last period, peel and chop the potatoes and chop the cauliflower.  Steam or boil them both, then mash together with butter, salt and pepper.

Check the meat mixture for seasoning, then spread it all into the bottom of an oven dish.  Cover with the mashed potato and cauliflower, then brush this with the beaten egg and put into an oven that has been pre-heated to 180C.  Cook in the oven for about 45 minutes until nicely brown on top, then remove, leave it to cool for a while, and enjoy!

When thinking about wine to have with this, I was after something quite full and earthy and thought it could take a fair amount of tannin too.  However, I’ve got a cold at the moment and can’t smell or taste that well, so decided not to go overboard with it as I wouldn’t really be able to tell how well it went that well.  I ended up with a bottle of Cotes du Rhone Villages Cairrane, which wasn’t what I had first had in mind (I somehow don’t generally imagine southern Rhone wines with beef for some reason), but as far as my impaired senses could make out, it went quite well.  It was big (14.5%) and fairly tannic (ripe though, so not astringent) with a good mouthful of grenache fruit and firmly on the dry side.

Feb 14th, 2009

9 Comments to 'Cottage Pie with Three Cuts of Beef'

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  1. Auhhh man, you ruined the surprise!

  2. Helen said,

    ooh, three cuts, I like it! Shame it wasn’t as good as your previous effort, kidneys do add a lovely richness don’t they? I love the anchovy butter on the brocolli by the way.

    Helen’s last blog post..Bompas and Parr: The Jellymongers

  3. Lizzie said,

    That picture is making me drool. Did you add cheese on top last time? maybe it was that… cheese tends to make everything taste better….

  4. Kerri said,

    What surprise, Nicole?!

    Thanks Helen. I think it probably was the kidney that made a difference, the liver obviously wasn’t the right choice this time.

    You’re right Lizzie, I can’t think of any exception to that rule!

  5. Ros said,

    I hadn’t read your wrrite up on the shepherds pie but I like the idea of adding in kidney to that. I don’t think I’d use calf liver for a recipe like that because its just too gorgeous on its own. To me it would be like using fillet steak in a vindaloo- not a disaster, but not the best way to use a subtle flavour, epecially when it costs so much. If you’re looking for offally unctiousness perhaps ox tail might have worked? Or maybe even finely chopped, slow cooked tongue?.

    Ros’s last blog post..Exotic

  6. Stephen said,

    Ros, I think you’re right about the calves liver – it did get a bit lost mixed inamongst everything else. Kidneys would have been good again, but we wanted to try another angle on the idea rather than recreating it again in beef form 🙂

    We did briefly consider oxtail instead of shin when we were having trouble finding shin; maybe we could have tried both.
    And coincidentally we did see a tongue while discussing all of this but didn’t think to put it in… in hindsight it sounds like a good idea!

  7. Antonia said,

    This looks so tasty. I loved the look of the Shepherd’s Pie you did previously so this really appeals. Anchovy butter on the broc sounds wonderful too.

  8. sophie said,

    absulutley gorgues i loved it i eat it all by my self i know wiegh 24 stone ahahha lol i have 3 months to live x r.i.p to me

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