This is one of my very favourite winter dishes. So much so, that I frequently make it at other times of the year also. I love it because of the combination of ordinary ingredients which come together in a gloriously rich and flavourful meal-in-a-dish. Which is another reason to love it – zero effort in the evening when you’re tired, cold and hungry. If you make this in individual ceramic dishes like in the top left of the picture, you can freeze them and just pull one out in the morning before work. At night you can heat it up in the microwave and toast the top under the grill and be sitting down to dine in less than 10 minutes. Beautiful.
I can’t even put my finger on precisely what makes this such an enjoyable meal. I think perhaps it’s just the combination of the brightness of fresh tomato with the beef in combination with the carrots and the buttery parsnip: rich, sweet and as comforting a Cottage Pie, but with a savoury twist.
This is an adaptation of a recipe in Mighty Mince (1980) by Jane Todd. It is packed with terrific recipes like this once for every kind dish, both British and from further afield, using beef, lamb, pork and veal mince. I would even go so far as to deem it Invaluable™. It turns up with surprising regularity in my local charity shops and car boot sales and I always buy every copy I come across and pass them on to friends and family, because it’s such a joy to have on the shelf.
Back to the recipe – it’s a root vegetable feast. Which means you can also play fast and loose with which ones you use. As already mentioned the carrot and parsnip are a particularly fine pairing, but don’t forget about swede, turnip, beetroot and celeriac. I’ve only tweaked this slightly – adding in some Worcestershire Sauce and sprinkling the topping directly onto the beef filling.
It’s especially popular with the young, with even my reluctant vegetable consumer daughter recently declaring (despite having eaten it many times in the past) “It’s a lot better than I thought it was going to be.”
And if that’s not a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is!
Beef and Parsnip Pie
500g beef mince
1 onion chopped fine
2 medium carrots, chopped small – I se a mandolin
2 tomatoes – peeled and chopped
150ml beef stock
2tbs Worcestershire Sauce
2 slices of bread made into breadcrumbs
3tbs grated cheese
- Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and add the beef mince.
- Stir until the beef has browned and is starting to caramelise in places.
- Lift out the meat and set aside, leaving the fat in the pan.
- Add the onion and stir gently for 5 minutes until softened.
- Add the carrots and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Return the meat to the pan and add the tomatoes and stock.
- Simmer for 15 minutes.
- Peel the parsnips (or not as you like), cut in thick slices and add to a saucepan.
- Cover with cold water an bring to a boil. Cook for 15-20 minute until tender.
- Drain the parsnips and mash until smooth, together with the butter and milk. Season to taste with black pepper.
- Taste the beef mixture and adjust the seasoning if required.
- Lightly butter an oven-proof dish (or dishes) and spread the parsnip over the bottom and sides as if it were pastry.
- Spoon the beef mixture on top and smooth over.
- Mix the cheese and breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the top.
- If you’re making this for the freezer then allow to cool, cover, label and freeze.
- To bake immediately, preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan and bake for 30-35 minutes for a large pie, 20 minutes if small.