Traditional Cottage Pie

Cottage Pie is the beef version of Shepherds Pie which is traditionally made with lamb. This is classic comfort food from the United Kingdom.

INGREDIENTS
1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 medium carrots, diced
1 lb. beef mince*
1 can (10 oz.) chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato purée
1 1/4 cup beef stock
1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs (fines herbes or blend of your choosing)
1 tablespoon Bisto (if you like thicker gravy)
Dash Worcestershire sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the topping
2 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup butter
4 tablespoons milk

* Ask your butcher to grind the beef using a thick blade, if possible. You can easily grind a piece of round steak or chuck using a home meat grinder with a thick blade. If all else fails, use a good quality ground beef.

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat the oil (or butter) in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the onion, garlic and carrot and cook over a medium heat until soft. Add the mince and cook to brown.

Add the tomatoes, purée, beef stock, mixed herbs and Worcestershire sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. If you like a thicker gravy, add a tablespoon of Bisto at this time and cook for another minute or so.

Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in salted water until soft. Drain and mash with the mustard, butter and milk. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon the mince mixture into a lightly oiled casserole dish.  Top with the mashed potatoes and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.

VARIATIONS

  • The potato topping can be replaced by a mix of potatoes and parsnips or celery root for a delicious variation.
  • Add 1 cup frozen peas after meat mixture has simmered.
  • Add 1 cup of grated aged cheddar cheese to the pototo topping — not traditional, but very good!
  • Instead of using one large casserole, divide into four portions and place in ovensafe casserole dishes. These can be covered and frozen for easy make-ahead meals.