One day last week, Gemma from Phipps PR company contacted me to see if I would like to receive a free "Gravy in a Box" kit from British Onions. She didn't have to ask me twice. I love onions, and I love gravy, and I really lurve onion gravy! I was told the box would arrive within a couple of days and true to their word it was at my doorstep by Friday afternoon.
What a lovely and surprisingly heavy box it was too, containing everything a person would need to make a tasty onion gravy! Inside was a good kilo or more of a tasty looking selecton of red and brown onions, plus some other goodies . . . a tasty jar of Marmite, proper old-fashioned tomato ketchup by Wilkin & Sons, good old Colman's English Mustard, Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce, and Mushroom Ketchup . . . one of my favourite all time ingredients to be sure! (It's kind of like Worcestershire sauce, but with a uniquely different and delicious flavour.)
Onion gravy is something we often have with our favourite Sausage and Mash, and of course Toad in the Hole. It's also a pretty key ingredient in an old fashioned Cottage Pie, coz as anyone worth their onions knows . . . a Cottage Pie is only as good as it's gravy!
I think the secret to a good gravy is using good ingredients to begin with . . . a well flavoured stock, tasty savouries, and good onions . . . well caramelized until soft and sweet and scrummily tasty.
I like to brown my meat really well for a cottage pie . . . there's something about the sticky brown bits in the bottom of the pan that adds even more flavour to the gravy you know . . . just don't let them burn . . .
I use a butchers extra lean quality minced beef and I scramble fry it in a lightly greased pan, on medium high until nice a colour begins to appear, and then I add a nice knob of butter. That adds a nice richness. It is only then that I add my onions and leeks . . . the caramelize to a melting sweetness in that butter and flavour the meat really well.
A tasty splash of Worcestershire, some mushroom ketchup, a few savoury herbs and a dollop of ketchup and you are well on your way to a very tasty dish. Of course it helps to simmer the meat sauce for a while so that the flavours really develop.
You don't have to top your pie with potato cobbles . . . but . . . they do make it look very pretty, and a bit more interesting than mash. Todd always says my Cottage Pie is the best he's ever tasted . . .
And who am I to argue with that!
Thanks to Gemma and British Onions for this tasty box. I am sure to make a few more gravies out of it as well, so stay tuned!
*Cottage Pie with Potato Cobbles*
This may be the most delicious Cottage Pie you've ever eaten and I don't make that claim lightly!
500g of extra lean ground beef (1 1/4 pounds)
olive oil spray
a knob of butter
1 large leek, split, washed and thinly sliced
1 small onion, peeled and minced
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp mixed dried herbs (thyme, summer savoury, marjoram)
1 bay leaf
2 dessert spoonful's of tomato ketchup
a good splash of worchestershire sauce
a good splash of mushroom ketchup
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 TBS plain flour
500ml of beef stock (2 cups)
(can use stock made from marmite)
2 cups of cooked cubed vegetables (carrots, swede, peas, beans etc.)
8 medium new potatoes, washed, unpeeled and cut into thick slices (about 1/3 inch)
a bit of melted butter
a handful of grated strong cheddar cheese
fine seasalt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Spray a large nonstick pan with some cooking spray. Add the beef and scramble fry, cooking until it is no longer pink and any liquid is totally evaporated. Add the knob of butter and continue to cook, until it begins to turn golden brown in places. Add the leek, onion, garlic, and herbs. Cover and cook over low heat until the vegetables are wilted. Sprinkle with the flour, stirring to mix it in well and then stir in the beef stock, bay leaf, tomato ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and mushroom ketchup. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until nice and thick. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Pour into the bottom of a shallow casserole dish, removing the bay leaf and discarding. Top with the cooked vegetables.
Place the potatoes into a pot of boiling lightly salted water to cover. Cook until crispy tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain well.
Preheat the oven to 18-*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Lay the potatoe slices over top of the meat and vegetables in the casserole. Brush with a bit of melted butter. Season with some salt and black pepper. Sprinkle the cheese over top and then bake in the heated oven for 35 to 40 minutes until the filling is nicely bubbling and the potatoes are lightly browned and cheese melted.
By the way, did you notice the nifty spoon I used for stirring this tasty dish?? Isn't it lovely? I just adore it. The people at Shrewd PR send me a sampling of some really nice Tovolo Silicone Utensils to try out! I really like them . . . there was a couple of nice spatulas and this fabulous slotted spoon. It's now my favourite spoon! It's very sturdy and I love the colour! I'll be on the look out for more of their products as I am very impressed!