This is an uncomplicated but delicious autumn and winter dinner. The nights are drawing in with astonishing rapidity and it’s the perfect time of year for your one-dish meat and potato combo.
I add ketchup and mustard to the filling, which is not very fancy but gives a pleasing tangyness to what might otherwise be a slightly bland dish.
Serves 3 or 4
450g minced beef
2 large potatoes
1 large onion
1 tbsp tomato puree and 1 tbsp ketchup, or 2 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp mustard. I use dijon mustard.
A little butter
Salt and pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 180c/350F.
Peel and slice the potatoes, but not too thinly otherwise they’ll turn into crisps. I don’t like giving exact measurements, but they want to be about half a centimetre thick. Put them in some water, bring to the boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. While they’re simmering peel and chop the onion and the carrots fairly small and set aside. When the potatoes are done, drain them and set them aside too.
Now, I admit I do faff about a little bit here. I thoroughly brown the mince, set it aside, then cook the onion and carrots in the same pan, then add the whole thing back together. But there is a good reason for this. You want to cook the meat on a high heat because if it’s not hot enough the meat will release all its water without it evaporating and rather than frying the mince, it stews in its own juices, which makes it rubbery and chewy. It also means that the onions and carrots will fry in the fat from the meat, so you don’t have to use any more oil and they’ll take on the flavour of the beef.
So. On a HIGH heat, fry the mince in a non-stick pan until it’s well browned – perhaps even crispy in places if you like it that way (I do). Then tip out the meat and set it aside. Turn down the heat and add the chopped onion and carrot. Fry them for about 5 minutes until the onion is soft but not burnt. Now re-add the meat and the mustard, tomatoe puree and/or ketchup, a few splashes of worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Fry it for a couple more minutes, stirring well so that the flavour is evenly distributed.
Put the meat mixture into the oven dish and top with the sliced potato, overlapping so that it’s evenly covered. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and dot it evenly with butter. You don’t need loads, just enough to moisten the potato.
Now it goes in the oven and you go and have a sit down for half an hour. After 30 minutes or so, the potato will be nicely browned. Serve it hot – it’s so good. I had mine with mangetout.