20 February 2012

Huddersfield Hash - comfort food to rival a Cottage Pie

Huddersfield Hash.

Now there's a new one for me!  Have you ever heard of it?  I hadn't - but I'm jolly glad I found out about it - as it's all set to become one of our new family favourites.

I found it on www.cookitsimply.com (follow the link to the original recipe) when I was searching for minced beef recipes and was a tad sceptical to begin with.  That is, until I read the recipe and imagined the flavours together.  Hmmmn, yes - now that looked promising.

I could see that I'd need to increase the spicing a little, as hubby likes to be able to taste the spices that went into a meal - and at "a pinch", the likelihood of his being able to do so was minimal.  I didn't increase them much, however, just to a level teaspoonful.  I didn't want them to dominate all the other flavours.

In order to reduce the fat content of the dish, I also turned the cooking process around a little bit in order to drain the fat from the meat, without losing any of the other flavours.  I do think that it is well worth doing this, as most supermarket purchased minced beef will have a percentage of fat involved with it - and there's no need to be eating it.

I will also admit to including a tablespoonful of that fabulous secret ingredient that cheers up most tomato-based sauces, which is - of course - tomato ketchup.  Aaah, where would we be without tomato ketchup.  I find it far better to add a tablespoonful of tomato ketchup, than to add the same amount of tomato puree.  There is just such a lovely combination of spices in ketchup - and sugar - that it can't help but cheer up a lonely tomato sauce.  Very often - and particularly if I've used Tarantella organic tinned tomatoes (yes, that's a plug and no, I'm not being sponsored by them!) - I find that I don't need to add additional sugar, if I've used tomato ketchup.  (Which illustrates how much sugar you're throwing down your neck, when attached to your chips!).

I made the cheese sauce earlier on in the day, which meant that it was stone cold by the time I was assembling the dish.  I think it is very well worth doing that, as it not only makes "making dinner" a little bit easier, but helps the texture of the sauce once you've added the egg.

I served mine with plain boiled carrots, parsnips and broccoli, along with a new variety of potato that I had been sent to try out by the lovely people at Greenvale Farm Fresh - the "Jelly" potato.  With its rich yellow flesh, distinctive buttery taste and creamy texture, this is a potato worth taking note of!

This first try-out was a simple test of a potato, but it showcased the flavour - which was surprisingly very nice indeed!  I say "surprisingly" because I find that potatoes fall into two camps - the very "earthy" tasting ones and the rest (which don't taste of much at all).  These Jelly potatoes are blazing the trail for a third type of potato - one which doesn't taste "earthy", but does taste of potato!  Even hubby - who would happily see all potatoes loaded into a space rocket and fired into the face of the sun - was happily tucking into his! 

Another point of note for the Jelly potato is the ease with which they can be peeled.  As a disabled person with limited sensation in her hands, I found peeling these potatoes to be an absolute pleasure.  I can see how they have got the name "Jelly", as although they aren't in the least bit jellified, their close texture has a smoothness that means the peeler just glides through.  I'm looking forward to trying them out in different incarnations!

If you're a Shepherd's or Cottage pie devotee, as I am, I reckon you'll really enjoy this Huddersfield Hash.  Give it a try - it's the perfect weather for it, at the moment!


Ingredients :

For the sauce :

20g butter
2 heaped tbsp plain flour
milk, from 1 pint (although you probably won't need the full pint)
half a tsp English mustard powder
a pinch of nutmeg
a pinch of cayenne pepper
150g mature Cheddar cheese, grated
1 egg, beaten.

For the meat mixture :
500g minced beef
1 tbsp olive oil
2 small courgettes, sliced
1 large Spanish onion, finely chopped (I used a red onion)
1 bay leaf
half a tsp of paprika
half a tsp of ground cumin
half a tsp of ground coriander
1 garlic clove, chopped fine or grated
500g minced beef
400g canned tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato ketchup.


1.  Begin, earlier in the day, by making the cheese sauce.  In a small saucepan, melt the butter and add the flour.  Mix until the flour has absorbed all the butter and cook out for a minute or so on a medium heat.

2.  Slowly, and whisking all the time, add the milk until the sauce reaches a gorgeously thick and gloopy consistency.

3.  Add the mustard powder, cayenne and nutmeg and whisk through until properly combined, then remove from the heat and add the cheese.

4.  Stir the cheese through and it will melt in the residual heat of the sauce.  You can adjust the texture of the sauce by adding a little more milk now if it is too thick, but don't boil the sauce (to reduce it if it's too thin) now it has the cheese in it, or it might split.  It is far better for it to be too thick!

5.  Set the sauce aside to cool.

6.  The next stage is the meat mixture.  Pre heat your oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.   In a large frying pan, dry fry the mince until it is beginning to caramelise where it touches the pan and has given up all its fat.

7.  Remove the meat to a warmed dish and reserve.  Drain the fat (into the dog's bowl, is always a good idea!).

8.  Add the olive oil to the pan and the sliced courgettes.  Cook until beginning to brown - on both sides - and reserve in an oven proof dish.

9.  Add the onion to the pan and cook on a medium heat until softened.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

10.  Return the meat to the pan and stir to combine.

11.  Stir in the bay leaf and spices and make sure they are well distributed through the mixture.

12.  Add the tomatoes and ketchup.  Break up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon, but leave them fairly chunky.  Simmer for some 15 minutes or until the mixture has thickened.  Season to taste.
13. Turn the meat mixture into the baking dish and level the top.

14.  Take the egg and whisk it into the cheese sauce, then cover the meat mixture with the sauce.

15. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

16. Serve. 

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