Time for my monthly recipe, featuring some of my favourite comfort food perfect for after a day outside in the countryside. This month I’m sharing my recipe for Cottage Pie, a very British dish with beef mince, loads of veggies, and topped with mashed potato. Cottage Pie is one of those things that can be made hundreds of ways, so here’s how I make mine…
For four to six portions (depending on how hungry we are at the time!), I use:
- Four medium sized white potatoes, scrubbed and chopped
- A little (or a lot!) butter and milk for mashing
- 400g good minced beef, I get mine from the butcher
- A large carrot, peeled and diced
- A large courgette (if you can get hold of one!), washed and diced
- One large or two small red onions, peeled and diced
- A handful of closed cup mushrooms, washed and chopped
- A tin of baked beans
- Half a pint of “reasonably thick” gravy
- A squirt of your favourite barbecue sauce
- A splash of Worcester sauce
You need a little time to make this but it’s not difficult. Chop up the potatoes and boil in a saucepan for 20 minutes until soft enough to mash. I don’t both peeling mine, I just give them a good scrub and leave the skins on – they’re the best bit! Mash the potatoes with a little butter and a splash of milk, and set aside ready to top the Cottage Pie filling.
For the filling, fry your beef mince in a teeny bit of oil until browned. 400g is plenty to make a massive Cottage Pie that will serve at least four; sometimes I use even less and up the veggies. You could replace the beef mince with turkey mince if you are looking for a slightly healthier alternative, but you may also want to add some dried herbs as you cook it to boost the flavour; if you substitute lamb mince you are of course making a Shepherd’s Pie!
Chop the veg into bite sized pieces (you should be able to eat a cottage pie from a bowl with just a fork or spoon). Add the carrot to the meet and give that a couple of minutes first as they take the longest, then add the courgette, red onion and mushrooms and allow to cook through for a few minutes. You are waiting for the red onion to soften and the courgette to brown slightly – this takes around 5-8 minutes or so.
For the sauce element I add a tin of baked beans and around half a pint of reasonably thick gravy. What’s “reasonably thick” I hear you say?! Well thicker than you’d want on your roast dinner but not so thick you can stand your spoon up in it! I also add a squirt of barbecue sauce and splash of Worcester sauce to boost the flavour of the gravy, I think these make a massive difference to the dish.
Stir all this through and then spoon the meat and veg mix into a large ovenproof dish. Top with the mashed potato and use a fork to “fluff up” the top so you get a nice crispy layer on the top. Put the Cottage Pie into the oven for about 35 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius or until the whole pie is hot, the filling is bubbling and the top is crispy.
I serve mine by the large spoonful with extra gravy. There is always enough for four good-sized portions for hungry people, and often means we get a couple of lunches out of it too. You can also freeze portions as homemade ready-meals for when you don’t have as much time another day.
How does this compare to your own Cottage Pie recipe? Let me know how yours differs so I can try out your method!