Authentic Australian cuisine is very hard to pin down. There are the dishes of the Aborigines, and while some sound very interesting, they use ingredients which are difficult to find. Then there are the dishes that arrived with the English settlers. There are the ethnic dishes that came with other European immigrants after WWII. Finally, there are the Asian dishes that came along with the latest wave of immigrants. In my research, it seems that the one thing that came up over and over again, in many different styles and cuisines, was a meat pie.
Meat pies ranged from empañada type filled pastries, to actual pies with top and bottom crusts, to skillet pies that only have a top. The dish featured below is one of those dishes that came with the English, and thus has been a part of the Australian recipe canon for a long time. Shepherds Pie is traditionally made with lamb (thus shepherd) but the Australians have termed variations made with other meats Cottage Pie. I found recipes using kangaroo as well as the more common beef, which is used here. This recipe is a variation of one found in Australian Good Taste magazine.
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 medium carrot, grated
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon mixed herbs
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 1 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbs. tomato paste
- 6 potatoes
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup cheese, grated
- Preheat oven to 200°C.
- Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Add onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until soft.
- Add ground beef and cook, stirring to break up any lumps, for 5 minutes or until meat changes color.
- Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until combined.
- Add stock, bay leaf, Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste. Bring to the boil.
- Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until sauce thickens. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, cook potato in a saucepan of salted boiling water for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain well.
- Return to the pan with the butter. Use a potato masher or fork to mash until smooth.
- Add milk and use a wooden spoon to stir until combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Spoon beef mixture into a 2L (8-cup) capacity ovenproof baking dish. Top with mashed potato and use a fork to spread over lamb mixture. Brush with butter.
- Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until mashed potato is golden brown. Serve immediately.
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