Don’t know about you, but I’m on a constant quest to just do the minimum – only having to do one dinner for everyone instead of making one at 5pm for the chislers and then again at 8pm for us. This winter warmer can hold smuggled veg, be served differently, and – most importantly – it can be FROZEN. WHOOOT!
Prep time: 30 minutes.
What you’ll need…
• 450 grams of minced meat
• Quarter stock cube (any type – veg, chicken, beef, whatever you have knocking around the cupboard)
• A few potatoes
• A shallot/onion, whatever you have knocking about
• Couple of carrots
• Fist of spinach, or kale – whatever you’d prefer to smuggle into your child
1 • If you’re cooking for someone as fussy as the 4-year-old, you might consider grating either the shallot or the onion. Otherwise, just chop your onion and sautee before adding a splash of water to the browned onions.
2 • Add the mince and brown. If you want to get rid of some of the excess fat, just tilt the pan slightly and scooch the mince up the top half and the wonder of gravity will let the fat run down to the bottom of the pan. Ladle it out into a cup.
3 • Dissolve the quarter stock cube in half a pint of hot water. If concerned about the salt etc, you can get the baby friendly organic stock cubes from Boots, or the Kallo organic stock cubes. But, to be honest, I just use whatever is in the cupboard :-p
4 • Add the dissolved stock cube to the browned meat and simmer lightly until most of the moisture has evaporated.
5 • While the meat is simmering, peel and chop the potatoes. Bring to the boil until tender (about 8 minutes), then mash with a drop of milk and a bit of butter. If you’re lactose intolerant, a squidge of mayonnaise is a cracking substitute. Mash.
6 • Preheat oven to 180, spoon the meat into an oven dish and top with the mash.
7 • Rake a fork across the top to create those tasty crunchy bits. It also makes you look like you know what you’re doing. If you fancy it, scatter some cheese on top. I chose not to as the 4-year-old gags on melted cheese (unless it’s on a pizza, of course).
8 • As your pie should still hot from cooking, you really only need to brown/crisp the top, so you can either a) stick it in the oven for about 20 minutes, or b) stick under the grill for about 5-10 minutes (but you’ll need to keep a peeper on it ’cause all your hard toil will char… If you’re cooking your pie from chilled after keeping it in the fridge, you’ll need to have it in the oven for at least 40 minutes to make sure it’s hot throughout.
Method: added extras
Pre-second child, there was extra time to peel, chop and steam carrots and spinach before blending them with the dissolved stock cube and adding to the meat, but that’s since been abandoned. Now I just chop and boil carrots and either mash them into the baby’s pie, along with some milk…
Yes, it looks gross, but anything nutritious usually does…
Instead of mashing carrot into the 4-year-old’s pie, the carrots are instead deposited on the side (she doesn’t like surprise bits of carrot… to the point of pukage). She also likes a splash of milk.
And here is mine, lashed on top of spinach with some ketchup on the side – because salt and pepper has pretty much gone out the window since cooking for kids.
Indeed it doesn’t look the most appetising (not being a food photographer), but trust me, it is. And the best bit – freezing the rest for kids meals next week.
You should probably let frozen portions thaw in the fridge before reheating, but I’ve been known to just chuck them straight into the microwave until piping hot. We’re all still alive.