When the weathers still cold and windy (yes it still happens to be like that in May!), I can't think anything more warming and homey feeling than a homemade shepherd's pie! But making up the sauce yourself with all of the stock and flavourings can take a lot of time and effort, which not many of us have these days so that's when I turn to the good old packet recipe mixes which I always have one or two of in my cupboard from various brands and this one happened to be a Colman's shepherd's pie recipe mix. After all using a packet mix is still classed as home made right?
~ Colman's ~
Colman's began with making mustard back in 1814 and have earned their place on the great British dinner table and are still bringing us nifty new products made of great quality, flavoursome ingredients.
Their range includes table sauces, gravies, season and steam recipe mixes, season and shake recipe mixes, regular recipe mixes, pour over sauces, mustards and condiments.
~ Price & Availability ~
Colman's recipe mixes are available to buy from all major supermarkets and some independent stores for around 74p per 50g sachet, although Asda have them on a constant reduction of 54p. They are cheaper than Schwartz's recipe mixes as they are sold at around 90p. I think that 74p represents good value however you have to remember that you need to buy the rest of the ingredients to make up the shepherd's pie so it can work out quite expensive and definitely more expensive than a ready made shepherds pie.
~ Packaging ~
Colman's shepherd's pie recipe mix comes in a small sachet which is lined for freshness, with its base colour being dark red. The sachet has a little tear mark which rips off nice and easily to open the packet without the contents flying everywhere. On the front is a picture of the shepherd's pie and above this is the traditional yellow and red Colman's logo. In the bottom left hand corner you will find an at a glance nutritional information chart and in the top left it says 'great tasting family favourites'. On the back of the packet you will find a list of the ingredients you will need in order to make the shepherd's pie, the recipe itself, cooking instructions, the Colman's promise, a full nutritional information table, an ingredients list, storage instructions and a product description which reads; 'a traditional British dish, this blend of onions and sage quickly creates a great tasting shepherd's pie the whole family will enjoy!'
~ Appearance, smell, cooking & taste ~
Tearing open the packet you will find a brown powder, similar in colour to gravy granules but finer. The smell is very herby with a nice subtle meaty smell which doesn't come across as being too artificial.
The ingredients you will need to make the sherpherd's pie following colman's recipe are as follows, however you don't really have to follow their recipe as everyone likes to put their own twist on things.
1 sachet of colman's shepherds pie recipe mix
450g (1lb) lean minced beef (I don't believe this is nearly enough!)
1 large onion, diced
300ml (1/2 pint) cold water
2 carrots, diced (optional)
175g (6oz) frozen peas (optional)
700g (1 ½ lb) cooked mashed potato (I usually use a bag of frozen mashed potato and microwave it before topping the pie with it and popping it in the oven for quickness and it works just as well)
The assembly of the pie is nice and simple, first you pre-heat your oven and brown your mince and onion (if using) and then drain off any excess fat from the meat. Next you blend the contents of the Colman's sachet in the water and stir it into the mince along with any vegetables (carrots, peas etc.) Once everything has been brought to the boil place the mince and vegetables into a baking dish and top with the cooked mash potato. Then all you have to do is pop it into the oven for around 30 minutes.
Once cooked the shepherd's pie smells nice and rich and the packet mix thickens up to form a gravy-like consistency. The taste is just as a Shepherd's pie should be, you can definitely taste the onions, garlic and sage and there are undertones of other herbs too. The only thing that I find is that the packet mix is extremely salty without adding extra salt in yourself, which really puts me off as it is overpowering and ruins the other tastes within the mix.
~ Other information ~
Following the recipe given on the packet, 100g as sold contains 313 calories, 15.3g of sugar, 1.9g of fat, 0.6g of saturates and 11.15g of sodium (salt). As I suspected, the salt content is ridiculously high which explains the overpowering salty taste of the mix.
Allergy advice: Contains traces of egg & milk
Colman's shepherd's pie mix contains no artificial colours, preservatives or added MSG.
Colman's shepherd's pie mix is suitable for vegetarians, however obviously you would have to use something instead of real mince otherwise it isn't.
~ Overall opinion ~
I can't fault Colman's shepherd's pie mix for ease of use and quickness however the saltiness really does let it down for me. It's such a shame because you can smell all the other herbs but don't really get to enjoy them because of this. Another upside to this packet mix though is that you can create lots of variations of a shepherd's pie, for example a vegetarian one using a meat substitute or lots of different vegetables, use swede and carrot mash instead of potato or swap the beef mince for something else. I think the price is reasonable, but like I mentioned earlier you have to take into account the cost of all the ingredients, so if you're looking for a cheap meal then this probably isn't the packet mix for you as mince alone these days can be quite expensive.
I'm not really sure whether I would recommend this packet mix or not, it's great for convenience and experimenting with different ingredients but does that matter when the whole dish gets overpowered with salt? I guess that's down to personal preference as I know a lot of people who do like salt although it's not good for you so if you were to use this mix, moderation would be key!
I personally wouldn't go out of my way to buy this again, I might try other brands and see if there more to my taste.
Shepherds Pie Mix
I always tend to make my own sauces but being pushed for time grabbed the Colmans Shepherds Pie mix.
The picture on the front of the mix makes for an interesting mix of the standard mince with peas and carrots and the sauce topped with golden mash.
The mix is a blend of onion tomato and thyme and is to create a quick and easy midweek meal.
I have to say it's pretty easy, you brown the mince, add the onions and peas and carrots and then mix in the sauce with ½ pint water to stir in.
Once boiled you pile this into a dish and spoon over the duly made mashed potato.
You cook in the oven for 45 minutes or until the topping is browned.
I have to say I was very disappointed with the flavour during cooking.
It's quite beefy but it was very bland, and I therefore changed the recipe to suit my needs.
It says you need:
1 sachet of the Colmans mix
1lb minced beef
1 large onion chopped
½ pint cold water
1 1/2lb mashed potato
Sprinkling of peas and carrots
After mixing all the ingredients together and tasting the sauce I then felt that it didn't have enough oomph to it. So I added chopped streaky bacon, a splash of wine an oxo cube and a splash of Worcestershire sauce.
Whilst I normally am a fan of these types of sauces I would have to say on this occasion I wasn't very impressed.
The sauce mix is bland and has no distinctive flavour and I therefore would say that this is not a sauce I would suggest you try out.
It's probably cheaper to make it yourself with home ingredients and also makes for a tastier dinner.
Easy and quick I agree but flavour wise its something that I would not suggest others would try.
It cost 69p from Asda and contains no artificial colours, MSG or preservatives.
I don't usually write food reviews, but I was so impressed with this sauce I thought I would share my views on it with you.
I LOVE Shepherd's Pie - proper comfort food for a cold day to warm the cockles and fill you up. However, I always struggle to get the sauce for the mince as tasty as I would like - I fry the mince off to make it nice and brown, with mushrooms, carrots and onions but somehow can never get the gravy quite right. Have tried doing it from scratch (too watery), with OXO (too thin) and with Bisto (too thick).
In desperation for the perfect gravy, I stumbled upon this packet sauce mix. Now, I don't usually use packets and really try to make everything from scratch, but the picture on the packet of yummy shepherds pie was so inviting, I thought I would give it a try.
The mix includes instructions on the back for the perfect Shepherd's Pie - as you would expect really, potato, minced beef, onions, carrots, but also peas which make a nice colourful addition. All you do is fry off the meat and veg (other than the tatties which of course you mash) and combine the mix with 1/2 pint cold water. Add the sauce to the frying pan and bring to the boil, then pop in a casserole topped with your lovely mash and pop in the oven for around 30 mins until the potato is golden brown.
The proof of the pudding is of course in the eating and this sauce really lifts my usual Shepherd's pie. Instead of a standard "beefy" type gravy taste, what you instead get is a slightly tomato/onion taste to the gravy - really tasty and gives an extra depth of flavour to the dish. I know people don't like to read long lists of ingredients, so I won't list them all, but you should note that the sauce contains traces of egg and milk for those of you on strict diets for health reasons.
I would definately recommend this sauce mix - it contains no artificial colours, no msg or artificial preservatives, so whilst you can't claim it is homemade, at least you don't need to feel too guilty about eating lots of added nasties.
These sauces retail around 80p in the supermarkets, but are often on 3 for £2 offers, so give it a go for an easy tasty supper.
I like to cook homemade food most of the time, microwaved meals are for emergency's only in our house. The trouble is, with me, I'm a total novice when it comes to herbs and spices, I'd rather not put any in than risk spoiling expensive food, so after a while everything tastes a little bland.
One day, whilst perusing the shelves for inspiration, I happened upon this packet of Colman's sheperd's pie recipe mix. The packet was red with the famous Colman's (of Norwich) logo on it. It looked familiar due to the fact I use Colman's mustard. It costs roundabout 79p and can often be found on offer in any high street supermarket. It was a brand I trusted, so I thought it would be worth taking a chance - besides, the shepherd's pie on the front looked yummy!
There is a shopping list on the back so you can buy anything you may require to make a sheperd's pie, while you are actully at the shops, which is a nice little feature. Having made shepherd's pie many times, I didn't need this information but someone else might.
On the reverse of the packet too, are the directions how to cook the pie. It is simple to follow, easy enough for a novice, quite short and precise.
The alternative recipe sounds delicious. That may be my next one to try! A sweeter version to this savoury classic. Replace the potato with 2 large parsnips and 3 sweet potatoes (yams), mixing in 2 teaspoons of Colman's (self advertising) wholegrain mustard. Mmmmmm - Sounds Yummy!
Having used fresh, quality ingredients, I am happy to say there are no 'nasties' in this mix. The ingredients consist of wheat flour, dried tomato, cornflour, onion, garlic, sage, malt extract, black pepper and vegetable oil. No artificial colours, artificial preservatives and definately no added MSG's. Basically it's just natural flavourings and thickeners which have been dried to preserve them naturally! That's the second best thing about this product. The first being the flavour!
When cooked, it becomes a beautifully delicious thick sauce, no need to add a gravy. The flavour is hard to describe, it's meaty obviously, not at all spicy, but flavourful. It's hard to put your finger on it but I guess it must be from the sage and and hint of pepper. Both of which are lacking in my kitchen, I don't even use salt normally. This has 11.6grams of salt but as the packet makes a meal for four, this isn't too bad once in a while. It is worth noting however, that this product contains traces of egg, and milk.
This is a hearty, warming meal, ideal for a cold winter's night, and the flavour is enhanced by the use of this Colman's sheperds pie mix. My family love it, (even the fussy one) LOL. Most highly recommended.
Having used this product last night for the first time I thought I'd tell you about my experience with it. Having wanted to make a Shepherd's pie for a long time I spotted this in my local supermarket and thought I'd give it a whirl.
I follwed the insturctions on the back of the packet exactly, adding all the ingredients it suggests and cooking to the specified times. I have to say I found this mix very bland and boring. When it was cooking it smelt great and looked like the perfect pie but upon eating it there was hardly any flavour. My mum advised that with this mix she usually has to put in an Oxo cube or some bisto gravy to make it a bit more flavoursome! I ended up having to put salt on it to make it a little more interesting.
This packet cost me 79p.
Overall it's a handy mix for novice cooks but it does not impress with the flavour. It's great to be used as a base to add other ingreditents to like seasoning and Oxo etc but you will be disappointed if you use this on it's own. After spending a lot of time preparing the ingredients for this dish I felt it was a big let down and my family agreed!
Being a big fan of Shepherds Pie and loving all the other Colman's sauce I decided to try out the Colman's Shepherds Pie mix.
Price and availability:
You'll find Colman's sauces in all good supermarkets. They often do 3 for 2 offers on the packet sauces, and the average price is 79p.
It is a 45g packet that has a silver foil type lining to ensure maximum freshness of the product. The packet has changed since the photo someone has put up. It is now brown.
It is a dry mix, that has a combination of blended herbs and spices.
How to cook:
You will need to fry off your minced lamb in a frying pan in a little oil (I use a spray oil called Frylight to limit the amount of fat). Then seperately you mix the contents of the sachet with 425ml cold water. You then pour this over the fried mince and stir it in letting it thicken over the heat.
Whilst this has been going on, you will have peeled, boiled and mashed some white potatoes. (or to save all the trouble, buy fresh mashed potato or frozen, you can get good quality frozen mashed potato now, you'd never tell the difference)
Put the mince mixture in a casserole dish and top with the mashed potato and cook in the oven until the top is crisp and brown.
**Tip** Season your mash well with salt and black pepper, or why not try something different for a change and add some wholegrain mustard or rosemary.
Well...one taste of this Sherpherd's Pie and you will never make it any other way again, it is really very tasty. The blend of herbs in the mix make a rich, meaty sauce. It is hearty tasting and tastes like a home cooked meal, you would think that it was a traditional family recipe that had taken hours slaving over a hot stove to make. (why not tell everyone that's what you did? I won't tell if you don't!)
This will serve four people...but everyone will want seconds, so you might have to make up two! It's a great british meal to enjoy as a family, sit everyone round the table, stick the casserole dish in the middle and dishes of steaming vegetables, a jug of gravy and tuck in!
I really love cottage & shepherds's pies (anyone know the difference?) & usually make my own as I've never been really impressed with the readymade stuff. Although everyone always says how nice it is I always felt there was something lacking in my recipe & am so pleased to have found this Colman's Shepherd's Pie Sauce Mix & now feel that my pies taste much better & somehow more complete.
I've always liked Colman's mustards so when I saw they did a pie mix in 50g packets I decided to try using one, was impressed & then went back to stock up on them because they were on offer in our local cutprice store for 19p instead of the RRP of 79p.
They are so easy to use - just snip open the packet, combine with water (as directed on the pack) & add to your cooked mince, onion & other diced vegetables & top the whole dish with home-made (or instant) mashed potato. I try to use seasonal vegetables wherever possible & luckily carrots, celery & leeks are all appearing at a decent price in our local greengrocers. By adding veg I find the pie goes further & I'm adding fibre to the dish & they freeze perfectly so I can make in bulk.
The mix itself contains assorted herbs, sage & onion which add extra flavour to the pie (although I already use a few herbs & lots of black pepper plus a bit of garlic) but as stated at the beginning I felt there was something 'missing' & Colman's Sauce Mix has definitely filled that gap!
The colour is nice as well - a deepish brown - plus the texture isn't too thick which makes it more of a sauce than a heavy gravy. The taste is lovely but not artificial although it contains the usual monosodiums etc.
I'd definitely recommend using this mix if you want to 'fake' a home-made cottage/shepherds pie especially if you see it on offer because it's so quick & easy to use, tastes great & only contains 144 calories per packet.
A traditional dish with healthy vegetables that go down well with the whole family.
Colman's of Norwich are probably most famous for their mustard in the little yellow jars. It was founded in 1814 and is one of the oldest existing food brands. Colman's is now owned by Unilever.
As well as their mustard Colman's also produce a range of great sauce and recipe mixes which making cooking very easy. One of my favourite is their Shepherds pie mix. It comes in a sachet and is a dry powder. Once you mix it with water it can then be added to your ingredients to make a lovely meal. The shepherds pie mix is described as a unique blend of sage and onion which transforms mince, carrots, fresh onion and potatoes into a tasty, hearty shepherd's pie! It comes in a 50g sachet.
The packaging of this mix includes the yellow at the top so you know it is from the same company and I think that is what lets you know that this is going to be a good quality product. I bought my last couple of packets in Sainsburys for 79p each so definitely a bargain. I always find it is good to buy a few at a time as you can store them in the cupboard and they last for quite a few months. The packet I just bought is good until September 2009. Then there is also a picture of a lovely home made Shepherd's pie which literally makes your mouth water looking at and hopefully means yours will turn out to look just as good.
The best part about this shepherd's pie mix is that it is extremely easy to make. Basically you just brown your mince and onions and pour the mix (which you have just diluted with water) into the sauce pan. Then you can add all the vegetables you like. I tend to add carrots and peas but you really can put in anything you like. Once that is done you put the mixture into an oven proof dish, add the mash on top and then cook in the oven for about half an hour. It's as simple as that.
The sauce is a lovely brown colour and has a lovely mix of herbs and spices to give a bit of a kick to the pie without being overpowering. It definitely has a very herby taste and compliments any vegetables you put in the casserole. I find generally the packet makes a pie that will serve 4 people or two people over two nights as it keeps quite well in the fridge overnight.
What I love about this mix is that it is really easy to make. Ok, you could spend lots of time and make your own sauce mix but this is very quick and easy, saves you loads of time and in my opinion tastes just as good as a fully home made shepherd's pie.
The whole packet when made into a meal only contains 288 calories per 100g so a very healthy choice when it comes to dinner, especially if you have lots of vegetables in your pie.
All in all a great healthy family dinner.