Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Abel and Cole

Wednesday night is football night. Every week, Mr A&N drives across North London in order to play a different bunch of 20-40 something year olds in football, and to return home every 3rd week with an injury that has yet to be life-threatening. In my previous, pre-baby life, this meant Wednesday night was girl's night out. Now Wednesday night is either early bedtime night, or blog night - sometimes both in one evening, which shows you how I still like to walk a bit on the wild side.

My Wednesday night dinner routine has returned to what it was like when I was single, since I don't have anyone to share big meals with. It means that I'll do things like dine on a whole head of broccoli (on the theory I haven't had enough greens for the day) or have a large bowl of popcorn with a side of salad for balance. Curious habits that I wouldn't want to inflict on a loved one (though perhaps I should examine why I don't love myself enough not to eat in such a way). I know these eating habits ought to change, and this week they've been given the chance to do so because of some outside intervention.

I was contacted last week by Abel and Cole, my weekly vegetable box people, to see if I wanted to try a couple of other things of theirs for this blog. I've spoken more than once about the challenges (all positive, I promise) of working through a box of vegetables and making them an interesting center piece of the meal. I've also spoken of my love for their excellent pies and how they've been seeing us through the aftermath of having a baby, for which I'll always be both a little bit greatful and a little bit teary. Abel and Cole offered to send me another of their ready meals, an individual cottage pie, as well as a free range chicken, both of which I accepted.

The chicken (roasted with some thyme, lemon and garlic) had th
e succulence and flavor that you hope a free range chicken would, with skin that crisped up nicely but didn't leave you with a roasting pan full of fat or water. And if it matters to you (which it does to me), their chickens come with some rather lovely credentials, of being raised slowly indoors for the first month until they can bear the British weather, and being given a nice varied feed from week to week, a good portion of which uses local UK produce. It's chicken that you feel does the right thing both ethically and palatably, which is really the sort of meal I most enjoy eating.

The cottage pie had me hoping for the best but fearing the worst. Cottage pie is a simple dish of ground beef, carrot, and onion, with some beef stock, tomato and spices to round off the flavor and give a bit of moisture to the mix. It's then topped with mash and baked so that it turns crispy. A simple dish, but one that people can cut corners on - the biggest crimes against a cottage pie are too much tomato (giving a sickly sweet, Chef Boyardee tang to it), mince that's so ground up and processed you begin to doubt that it even came from an animal, and a too-generous coating of mash to cut the overall cost but keep the tummy-filling potential high.

The Pegoty Hedge pie from Abel and Cole isn't afflicted with any of these problems. To my surprise, it was pretty near the sort of pie you would make for yourself; good mash-to-filling ratio, well seasoned but not too salty or peppery, and more meaty tasting than fake tomato tasting. I was especially reassured to see the first ingredient was beef (30%) and to find actual beef chunks in it. The only problem with it is that it's a single serving size, which isn't as accomodating to couples or families who want a night off from heavy cooking but not a night off from food that resembles food. However, it was perfect for this Wednesday night dinner of mine, and once again Abel and Cole leaves me feeling that little bit greatful that I've found them.


Elra said...

My husband really fond of this pie as it is remind him of his childhood. Unfortunately, I didn't make it very often. Not because I don't like it, I just forget how wonderful it is. Thanks for reminding me about this humble yet delicious pie.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

So something like a shepherd's pie.
When our boys were young, I had a 'ladies night out' with two friends. Now those are wonderful memories and great stories.
This 'pie for one' sounds like a good tradition in the making ;o)