POOR MAN’S PIE
I invented this dish as a hearty winter filler for the restaurant. It is loosely based on shepherd’s pie, with a Southern twist. I usually make it on a Monday, when I have leftover mashed potatoes. When I was a child, my mother used to do a similar dish with a cobbler topping. I’ve changed the recipe by topping it with cornbread.
4 medium sized potatoes, peeled and chopped (or 450g leftover mash) 50g butter 120-150ml milk 500g minced beef 1 onion, diced 1 garlic clove, finely chopped 1 green and 1 red pepper, diced 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper 1 teaspoon Momma’s Cajun Seasoning (page 50) 4 chorizo sausages, sliced or diced 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes (optional) 2 tablespoons plain flour 200g can sweetcorn, drained 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1cm dice 1/2 quantity of Cornbread batter
Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until tender, then drain well,reserving the cooking water. Mash with the butter and enough milk to give texture, then season to taste and set aside.
Now move on to the meat. Place the mince in a large frying pan over a medium heat to brown it off. I tend not to add any oil to the pan as the beef will release its own fat. Once the meat has browned, add the onion, garlic and peppers, then stir in the salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the chorizo, and add the chilli flakes if you want an added kick, and give it a good stir. Once the meat is cooked, pour off any excess fat, leaving just a little in the pan. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and stir the flour into the remaining fat to make a simple roux. Now gradually stir in 500ml of the potato water. I like to discard the top part of the water, leaving just the bottom half, which contains a lot of the potato starch and helps to thicken the gravy. Stir in the sweetcorn and sweet potato and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes, until the potato is tender.
Transfer the mixture to an ovenproof dish and top with the mashed potatoes, then spread the cornbread mixture over the potatoes. Place the dish in an oven preheated to 180C/Gas Mark 4 and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the cornbread has risen and cooked through; the topping is ready when a knife inserted through the centre comes out dry and clean.