I love English desserts. When I think of English food, it's not blandness that springs to mind (of course, Finnish cuisine is the only one inferior to the English, so my opinion shouldn't count for very much), but an abundance of hearty, unfussy sweets, laden with fruits and especially berries - take a look at summer pudding as a prime example. Not to mention trifles, and fools, and crumbles. (I've even tried to make my own clotted cream, with, erm, interesting results.) Oh, and custards. Homemade custard is so good... In fact, I think I've solved my what about Sunday's dessert problem, or rather, replaced it with its opposite: how to choose from all of those...
With all this love for English desserts, it may be a bit of a surprise that the dish I'm presenting for the English food isn't a joke-event, hosted by Sam of Becks & Posh, is a savory one, and it's not even an English breakfast (mmm, fried tomatoes and rashers and eggs and baked beans). And there's nothing funny about cottage pie other than the name - that the lamb version is a shepherd's pie is quite understandable, if you overlook the fact that it is in fact not the least pie-like, but rather a casserole. A layer-deficient casserole. But what's so cottage-y about beef mince?
Anyway, we all know how I like my casseroles, and the weather is obliging me by being very English (pouring rain and 10°C), so we're going to tuck into this hearty and comforting dish RIGHT NOW.
I don't really have a recipe for you: I made a mince sauce out of finely chopped onions, celery and carrots, half a package of bacon and about 800 g of minced beef, a can of crushed tomatoes and a squeeze of tomato puree, a bay leaf, some beef stock, and salt and pepper. (I let the sauce simmer gently for about half an hour, while preparing the mash topping and heating the oven.)
Then made a mash out of four medium-large potatoes and two parsnips by boiling them, peeled and cut into chunks, in salted water and mashing them together with an, ahem, generous amount of butter and some finely grated cheddar (not exactly kosher, but good), seasoning with freshly ground pepper and nutmeg.
Transferred the meat sauce to a large ovenproof casserole (plus some portion-sized ones) and topped with the mashed root veg, dotted the whole thing with butter, and baked at 175°C until it got a nice color, about 45 minutes.
And, erm. If you fill your baking dishes very full, make sure to have a piece of foil or something at the bottom of your oven catching drips.