There must be limits to the number of different ways food can be prepared and after publishing a couple of hundred recipes on here I feel that I have reached my personal limit for now. However, there are tips, techniques, variations due to personal taste that may be of interest.
As a result of not wanting to produce new recipes for now I fancied eating cottage pie and searched for 'different' versions of this standard meal. The recipe shown is from Mary Berry and contains some different methods in a standard meal.
So the main differences from a standard pie are the topping of dauphinoise potatoes and the sauce which was pre-thickened (if that's a correct term). The dauphinoise was fairly simply cream and thinly sliced potatoes, par-boiled first then layered on top of the meat sauce. The new step for me was the way in which Mary thickens the sauce. She suggests that the flour is mixed with the red wine until a smooth paste then beef stock stirred in, the whole lot brought to the boil and then simmered for a couple of minutes until thickened which it did very well. Thickening can be a nervy and lumpy experience and so I appreciate different ways of doing so.
The overall result was rather like the curate's egg - 'good in parts'. I suppose I could entitle this 'learn from my errors' and as such you expert cook's and chefs out there may think my culinary efforts as limited to say the least. However, for you who find this blog useful be warned, cut your potato in quite thin slices. Mary suggest 4mm, I was a little on the thick side and some of the potato wasn't cooked. The meat sauce was very tasty and included chestnut mushrooms as well as carrots, minced beef and red wine.
There are numerous ways in which you can vary this recipe, I personally enjoyed the topping and will try it again, in fact it could be done for fish pie or shepherd's pie, anything with a potato topping. I enjoyed the meat sauce but prefer my own version which is much more in the manner of an Italian meat sauce with garlic, tomatoes and oregano. Whatever you prefer these are a few extra variations supplied that wonderful chef Mary Berry.