Chef Calum Franklin is a champion of the humble pie, using his French classical training and love of British traditions to create something special at his London restaurant, the Holborn Dining Room, and its adjoining Pie Room for takeaway treats.
“I am proud of this city in terms of what we represent for food and the thought of tourists coming to London for a traditional British dish like a pie,” Calum says, “I’ve always been interested in savory pastry. When I did old-school French cookery, we would do things like salmon en croute. I like things that are crafted and also that you can’t cut corners.”
Calum’s debut cookbook, “The Pie Room,” published this week by Bloomsbury Absolute, is a celebration of pies and puddings, with recipes and tips for sauces and chutneys, as well as pastry.
He offers this straightforward recipe for Keema-Spiced Cottage Pie. (Calum, whose wife, Shenali, is Sri Lankan, enjoys spicy food.) I found it fairly simple, but I took a big shortcut by using prepared mash potato for the British-Indian mash-up, which I confessed to him.
“I like that,” he said. “There is no shame in using ready-made puff pastry, for example. I have the luxury of a kitchen with 35 chefs where we’re not going to buy in pastry, but at home you don’t have the luxury of time. You can make this pie in an evening: Come home from work and have it ready for the family meal. It reminds me of the comfort food I had as a child.”
KEEMA-SPICED COTTAGE PIE
- 1 tbs. vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- ½ tsp. ground turmeric
- 2 tsp. garam masala
- ½ tsp. cumin seeds
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp. grated fresh root ginger
- 2 red chilies, finely chopped
- 17.5 oz. ground beef
- 12 oz. chopped canned tomatoes
- 10 oz. frozen peas, defrosted
- 1 ounce coriander
- For the potato topping:
- 2 pounds peeled potatoes, cut into chunks
- 5 oz. milk
- 3 oz, unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 egg yolk
Preheat oven 400 degrees.
Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 10 minutes until it starts to brown.
Add the turmeric, garam masala and cumin seeds and toast for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and chilies; sauté another 5 minutes until soft and lightly browned.
Add the ground beef and sauté until any liquid has evaporated, then add the tomatoes and cook 15 minutes more. Add the peas and coriander leaves. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Spoon into a 9.5-inch round ovenproof pie dish, level the surface and allow to cool.
For the potato topping, boil the potatoes in a pan of salted water for 15-20 minutes or until soft in the center. Drain. Add the milk, butter and turmeric and mash well. Fold in the egg yolk and mix well to combine.
Spread the potato topping over the minced beef mixture in the pie dish. Ruffle the surface of the potato topping with a fork for added texture.
Place the dish in the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the beef mixture is bubbling up the sides of the dish and the potato topping has a crispy golden crust. Serve immediately.