Tuesday 29 June 2010

Rescue Mission

I'm not always a competent cook. Over the years I've smashed 3 Pyrex dishes by removing them from the oven and then running them under a cold tap. I am completely unable to make foccacia without producing sheets of cardboard. I can't cook rice without the aid of a rice cooker.

To add to this list, I have been known to get drunk on gin when I have friends round on a sunny afternoon. I forgot about it and hideously overcooked a beautiful 2.6kg sirloin of beef. Even still with the merest hint of pink on the inside, it was moist and tender but my cheeks burned with shame (and the alcoholic flush) when I sliced into it.

Served with summertime accompaniments of steamed carrots, broad bean salad and new potatoes crushed with Greek yoghurt and horseradish, there was no denying it; I'd ballsed it right up. I thought of the leftovers and shuddered at the image of drying slices of meat heaped pitifully atop piles of salad leaves, perked up only by a smear of mustard and a quartered pickled onion. No no, it wouldn't do.

Having spied the leftover crushed new potatoes and a few carrots languishing as well, there was only one thing for it; chopped into chunks, the meat would make a cottage pie. Not really the weather for it, but after feasting in Hong Kong I was rather taken by the idea of some warming British comfort food. A damn fine pie it made too; crispy peaks of the crushed potato, spiked with horseradish spiciness yielded to rich, unctuous gravy, sweetened with carrot and studded with tender chunks of beef. This was the only way to atone for my sins.

Cottage Pie

Serves 3

300gr leftover roast beef, chopped into chunks
A few (leftover) carrots, diced
A large onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Beef stock, to cover
2 sprigs of thyme
1 tbsp cornflour, mixed with 1 tbsp water

Cold mashed potato - I used new potatoes and crushed them with horseradish, Greek yoghurt and 2 sliced spring onions

Fry the onion and garlic slowly until soft and translucent. Add the carrots and fry for another 5 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Throw in the sprigs of thyme, the chunks of beef and cover with the beef stock. Simmer slowly for 40 minutes. Thicken with the cornflour and then pour into a dish. Top with the potato, make slight peaks with a fork and bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and the dish is bubbling, making an unholy mess of your oven.

Remove, leave to stand for 10 minutes and serve.


Fillyerboots said...

Absolutely lovely. Good to admit you're only human.

Helen (Fuss Free Flavours) said...

I once cracked a cast iron griddle pan! And boiled a pan of veggies dry whilst glugging down G&T.

The dish your broadbeans are in takes my straight to my mother's kitchen!

It all looks great!

Peter M said...

Good save! Leftover meats are perfect for this type of dish. In restaurants, cottage and shepherd's pies are usually made of leftover meat, they are actually better because of this.

Next time you're having a gin-filled evening, employ the timer and meat thermometer! ;)

Mr Noodles said...

I can't cook rice without a rice cooker either!

Cookinggirl said...

Hi, brilliant blog, just discovered it & love this post, we all make mistakes and love how honest about it you are, especially the drinking on a sunny afternoon made me giggle :)

thanks!! xxx

Unknown said...

I find the best way to cover up drunken mistakes is to delay dinner for an hour and ply guests with roughly double the amount of gin you have consumed.

Pie looks lovely, almost worth overcooking the beef for!

Chris Pople said...

It's a testament to that excellent beef from Allens of Mayfair that even cooked through it was moist and delicious. Good fat marbling, I'd say.

Your broad beans were brill too. Brill beans.

S said...

haha I love it. Lizzie, youre too cute- drunk on gin- you didnt produce a rare roast but you made a gorgeous cottage pie. and with the carrots and horseradish in the potatoes- it looks and sounds really, really delish. x shayma

meemalee said...

I can't cook rice without a rice cooker either


Anonymous said...

I was humiliated once when the chef of a kitchen I was working in asked me to cook some rice and I asked where the rice cooker was and he was like o_O But seriously, how many Asians don't have a rice cooker? That's what I said in my defense. #fail.

Mer said...

I can't cook porridge in a microwave to save my life. I've tried and tried, but always end up with a volcanic mass. It's more washing up, but I stick to my little milk pan.

I'm also absolutely rubbish at whisking egg whites. They will not peak for me.

gastrogeek said...

Well rescued - I'd even go so far as to say that it looks like it's worth overcooking the beef for...

Helen said...

Yeah I've done stuff like that before. Invite people round then get really pissed and eff up the food. Very embarrassing and the worst thing is - so easily done! Nice pie though. I'd still shovel that down even in this weather.

bexmeganblog said...

I've had my fair share of disasters like this, nice to see it can be salvaged at least some of the time!! Pie looks luverrllyyy!!

Becca :-)

Unknown said...

I've done the pyrex thing as well with various ceramic/glass containers (will I never learn!) including a beautiful hand painted tagine I lugged back from Morocco. Good salvage though.

The Grubworm said...

I can't steam rice in a pan either - or bake a cake without a liquid centre either... However, while you may smash the odd pyrex dish, it looks like you make a mean cottage pie.

I love the idea of spiking the mash with horseradish and smoothing them with the yoghurt - it must add whole new layers of taste and texture. Gorgeous.

Hollow Legs said...

Fillyerboots - Thanks. I've made many more mistakes, I'm sure...

Helen - blimey - cast iron!? That dish is my favourite too.

Peter M - Ah, timers and thermometres; where's the suspense in that? :)

Mr Noodles - I think it's pretty common, certainly with my family.

Cookinggirl - many thank yous, glad you've enjoyed it!

H - Now there's a most excellent idea....

Chris - you're right, the beef was still great; obviously top quality.

Shayma - horseradish isn't used enough in my kitchen; such a great complement to beef.

Meemalee - Rejoice at our shame and failings!

Sasasunakki - Definitely. I don't know any Asians without a rice cooker! It's the best way :)

Mer - Good to hear other peoples' failings too!

gastrogeek - Hmm I'm not sure... I'd have loved some rare slices :(

Helen - Booze, sometimes, is not our friend!

Colehillkitchen - Thanks! It's always good when it's salvagable.

GC - I am incapable of learning from my own mistakes. Shame about your tagine.

Grubworm - Yoghurt is my new favourite ingredient, so luxurious.

kerstin said...

I'll teach you how to make focaccia...come over.

bron said...

Took me about eight goes before I could cook rice in a rice cooker!

Great save.

Food Urchin said...

That's not such a bad ballsup and hey, you produced a beautiful looking cottage pie out of the leftovers.

I would give some of my fuck-up stories but there are too many....

Anonymous said...

Really lovely looking pie! I never make cottage, always shepherds, but may give that a go when the nights start drawing in.

In terms of cooking failures though I generally manage to fail in some way at least six times out of every ten, and nearer to nine out of ten if cooking for others.

I've cooked Fake Christmas dinner for six years now and every year there is something undercooked, something overcooked, something that's gone cold, and the whole dinner is at least three hours after it was supposed to be (normally more).

This year I narrowly avoided poisoning my best friends after undercooking the bird. Luckily, as we'd once again bought turkeyzilla the fully cooked breast meat fed everyone and I didn't realise the horrific extent of my error until everyone had left and I came to carve up the remaining beast for leftovers.

Overcooking is always better than undercooking, and next year I'm buying a meat thermometer!

Hannah said...

What a lovely warming dinner for a cold night! Thank you so much for reminding me of the comfort of a simple, homestyle meal.

H :)