Heather’s Mum’s cottage pie … ish

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This cottage pie is my own adaptation of my mum’s recipe. I remember happily sitting down to eat it with some gravy, some garden peas and a large spoonful of Branston pickle … I’m not sure if that’s entirely normal, but I promise it really does work!
If you wanted to make this recipe a little fancier, you could add some full-flavoured cheddar cheese to the mash, or even some softened, chopped leeks. I usually serve it simply with some peas or sweetcorn, but any fresh veg would go well. You can also ‘hide’ lots of extra veg inside the pie (peppers, courgettes, carrots etc) – just grate or chop them very small and add them with the onions to cook down gently at the start of the process. Heather x

Heather Brown is a food writer, photographer and stylist. A committee Member of The Guild of Food Writers, she also knows a thing or two about websites. Heather runs Dorset Foodie Feed, championing Dorset’s food and drink businesses, as well as working one-to-one with clients.

Cottage Pie (serves 4)

Mashed Potatoes

  • 6-8 large potatoes, peeled
  • 2-3 tbsp milk
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • Salt to taste

Meat Filling

  • 500g lean steak mince
  • 1tsp oil
  • 1 large white onion
  • 10 to 12 mushrooms
  • Black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 25ml port or 50ml red wine
  • 1tbsp soy sauce
  • 1tsp honey
  • Boil a large saucepan full of salty water (it should taste like sea water). Roughly chop your potatoes and add to the boiling water. Boil for about 15 minutes, or until starting to soften to the touch.
  • While the potatoes are boiling, preheat the oven to 200º fan (Gas 6).
  • Drain the potatoes, leaving them in the pan. Using a potato masher mash the potatoes, adding in all of the butter. Keep mashing! Then add the milk until the mixture is smooth, a little at a time. I find that potatoes always need more mashing than I thought!
  • Place a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the oil. Peel and chop the onion and add to the pan. Then chop and add the mushrooms and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring so that the onions and mushrooms begin to colour.
  • Add the mince and stir thoroughly as it cooks.
  • (Tip – if you are making this recipe for more than four people, you can cook the mince in the oven first – just lay the mince out in a thin layer over a large baking sheet and cook in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes until it begins to brown, then add to the pan and continue cooking the recipe as normal)
  • When the beef is cooked through and beginning to colour, add the red wine/port and stir through. This will also take any delicious crispy bits off the bottom of the pan
  • (this is called deglazing).
  • Add the soy sauce, honey, a couple of grinds of black pepper and the thyme and give it a good mix through.
  • Mix the beef stock cube with 100ml boiling water and add to the pan. Stir this through and allow the flavours to mix together, letting the sauce reduce slightly.
  • Time to put the pie together. In a medium-sized, oven-proof dish, tip in the mince mixture. Then carefully spoon the mashed potato on top (one heaped spoonful at a time – it is easier to spread out that way). Once all the mash is on the pie, run a fork through the top to give it lots of peaks to get crispy in the oven.
  • Cook in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes until the top is golden and crispy. This pie can also be made ahead and reheated – just pop it back into a hot oven for 10 minutes or so.

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