Monday, 2 February 2015

Biker's Pie

Time taken: An hour and three quarters, I reckon. 
Ingredients: 200g Quorn mince, 1 onion, 1 stick of celery, 1 carrot, half a tin of chopped tomatoes, a tablespoon of tomato puree, a veggie Oxo cube, 2 teaspoons of cornflour, a teaspoon of dried mixed herbs, a teaspoon or Worcestershire sauce, salt & pepper. Plus, 400g potatoes, a leek, 2 tablespoons of reduced-fat crème fraiche & some oil.

Hello readers,
Good evening lovely people! Greetings from Newcastle-upon-Tyne! Today here on this first Monday of February it is dark, bitterly cold, reasonably windy, not a cloud in sight for shelter… this is a bloody HARSH climate we’re living in. It’s coooooold.

It’s like how I imagine Scotland or Norway. Or Finland. Or Antractica! Literally, there are a lot of Newcastle students from down south thinking WHAT IS THIS. And international students here that are thinking THIS IS A PLACE PEOPLE GO TO, TO DIE!

Newcastle is a cruel, cruel world right now. The cake consumption in my house has gone through the roof. There’s a lottt of cake being eaten here. It’s a Cake Fest. A cake-o-rama. WE’RE CAKING IT UP PEOPLE. We’re strong, empowered women. Battling our way through winter – one Mug Cake at a time. :P And so life isn’t that bad. I hope you’ve had a not-so-bad Monday wherever you are. And that you have something to be thankful for on this evening. Even if it’s only cake.

So, last week it was my turn to host Floss for tea. We keep taking it in turns to host, so that one of us gets a night off cooking. Like husband and wife. At the time last week, it was a terrifically cold day (when isn’t it??) and I was full of cold and feeling bloody rubbish. So I wanted to make some proper food to serve for tea, to warm us both up and help me to fight off my cold, and to impress Floss with my fabulous culinary skills!

I had the idea to try and make a shepherd’s pie, but I don’t think I’ve ever done this by myself before. I tend not to bother with family-sized dishes when I’m normally only cooking for one. But this night I wasn’t! So I set about googling and found a recipe by the Hairy Biker’s with lots of vegetables in, which looked delicious. You can view their original of the recipe HERE.

I downsized the recipe’s quantities so that it would make either 4 sensible or 3 bear-sized portions (we’re all bears here), and then vegetarianised its ingredients, and voila! A hearty new recipe to try. This recipe requires quite a few ingredients to make, but none of them are fancy and if you potter about in the kitchen on a regular basis then, chances are, you’ll have a good number of them in. I was surprised how many I had! There’s nothing fancy or unusual involved. Just a lot of regular stuff.

Here’s how to cook up a big dish of Bikers Pie like I did, in ten easy steps:

1. Heat your oven to 220˚C. DEFINITELY sort yourself a cuppa and turn on the radio for this one. Prep your ingredients! Chop up your carrot, celery, onion and leek, and have these ready on a chopping board. Peel your potatoes and then chop these up until you have 400g of potato cubes ready, which you can sit in a saucepan for now.

ChefBeHere Top Tip: There’s a lot of ingredients involved here in this recipe, A LOT, so I recommend getting them all out of the fridge, the freezer and your cupboards, and sitting them together on the counter. That way you can’t forget or misplace anything. In theory.

2. Take the biggest saucepan you have and heat some oil in this. Add your mince, carrot, onion and celery to the pan. Cook these for about ten minutes until they’re lightly browned.

ChefBeHere Top Tip: Keep prodding everything about so that it doesn’t singe! Stay focused on your pan.

3. Boil the kettle. Sit your Oxo cube in a measuring jug and then pour 250ml of boiling water over it. Stir vigorously, with a firm arm, until your cube dissolves and you’ve made stock.

4. Open your tin of tomatoes and pour half into a Tupperware to keep in the fridge and use another day. Pour the second half of the tomatoes into your pan, along with the stock, your tomato puree, and your Worcestershire sauce and herbs. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper into the pan.

5. Stir it up! This is your pie filling all together now. You can leave it to simmer for forty minutes and take a quarter of an hour break yourself.

ChefBeHere Top Tip: I used this time to recover the kitchen, then clear the dining table and set it nicely to be ready for dining with Floss later. You can just dance around though.

6. Then, boil your kettle and fill the pan containing your potato cubes with water. Pop a lid on it and set this pan to boil for the next 20 minutes. Give your pie filling a stir and take ten more minutes for yourself.

ChefBeHere Top Tip: I used this time to make myself presentable for dinnertime. I had been looking, as my flatmate Brummanie would say… somewhat ‘dishevelled’. But you should just chill. Remember to always stay hydrated while Cheffing.

7. Back to the kitchen, heat some oil in a small frying pan and fry your leeks for 5 minutes until they soften. You can take them off the heat when they start to brown.

8. Drain your boiled potatoes into a colander then return them to their pan. Add to the pan a couple of dollops of crème fraiche and a sprinkle of black pepper. Arm yourself with a masher. Enthusiastically mash your potatoes until they’re fluffy and smooth, but with a few lumps remaining. Stir your leeks into the mash.

9. Mix your cornflour with a teaspoon of cold water until this forms a smooth paste, then chuck it in your big pan of pie filling and stir for a few minutes. The cornflour should thicken everything up a little in the pan.

10. Finally, pour the contents of your pan into an ovenproof dish. Spoon dollops of mash over the top of your filling. Then, use a fork to spread the mash about until it covers all of your pie filling and this has a smooth surface. Safely transport your Bikers Pie into the oven to bake for half an hour until it has turned golden and the filling is bubbling. Take it out and serve it up!

Here’s my Biker’s Pie greeting the world
And there you have it! This is a proper filling, proper wholesome, really British dish. It’s one for winter, definitely. But with all the veg involved in this version and the Quorn, and as you aren’t throwing any cheese over it, I don’t think it’s actually that bad for you! The Hairy Bikers have done us proud and made a waistband-friendly version of this classic, one that tastes scrumptious.

I liked this very much and Floss seemed to as well. Plates were cleared! Then, I liked it again a couple of nights later when I reheated leftover Bikers Pie, for an easy tea after work. This saved well in the fridge and microwaved well for a second night’s feast. I imagine you can freeze this too, if you like.

Overall, the recipe took some doing. You need an armful of ingredients, a couple of hours to spare and with 3 pans involved there’s a fair bit of washing up to do! BUT, really, they’re all simple, cheap ingredients. You get loads of breaks throughout the cooking, to have a chill and sit down. And a tea tasting this lovely quite justifies doing a few measly dishes, in my opinion.

So gather your stuff and get this on! Change up your diet from an endless parade of Mug Cakes.  Feed a friend, feed a few friends, or just feed yourself a few times over. Bikers Pie is one that’s worth the effort.

Mash safely,

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