Cottage pie on a plate with broccoli, peas and red cabbage

Cottage Pie

Traditional cottage pie with a rich meaty sauce, topped with creamy mashed potato, crisped up to golden perfection. 
Course Dinner
Cuisine British
Keyword Comfort Food, winter
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 6 people
Author Nicky Corbishley

Ingredients

  • 2 lb 900g floury potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion peeled and chopped
  • 1 stick celery finely chopped
  • 1 carrot peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 lb 450g minced beef
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (check for gluten free if needed)
  • 2 1/2 cups (600ml) beef stock (boiling water plus 2 or 3 stock cubes is fine - use bouillon for gluten free)
  • 1/4 cup 60ml double (heavy) cream
  • 4 tbsp 60g unsalted butter
  • 1 heaped tbsp cornflour/cornstarch

Instructions

  • Place the potatoes in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • While the potatoes are cooking, preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the onions, celery and carrot on medium heat for five minutes until they start to soften.
  • Add the minced beef and cook until browned – breaking up any pieces as you go. Add in half the salt and pepper, the Worcestershire sauce and stock (see pro tip 1). Simmer for 5 minutes.
  • By this time, the potatoes should be cooked. Drain the potatoes and mash using a potato ricer. Add the cream, butter and remaining salt and pepper and mix together.
  • Mix the cornflour (cornstarch) with three tbsp of cold water and stir into the simmering beef mixture to thicken the sauce (you may need to add a little more if you like it thicker).
  • Turn off the heat and use a slotted spoon to scoop out the beef mixture and place into a 7”x 9” (18cmx23cm) baking dish. This should leave most of the gravy behind in the pan.
  • Top the beef with the mashed potatoes (see pro tip 2), and flatten out with a spoon. Rough up the top of the mash with a fork (so you get nice crispy bits).
  • Place in the oven for 20 minutes until the mashed potato is golden brown. Heat up the gravy, then serve the cottage pie with the gravy, green veg and some pickled red cabbage.

Notes

**Pro Tip 1** 2 1/2 cups (600ml) sounds like a lot of stock but this amount is needed so you have enough liquid to make into gravy later.
**Pro Tip 2** Spooning the mashed potato on in blobs will help you get an even coverage and help prevent the meat getting mixed in with the mash when you spread it. You simply need to join up the blobs.
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Can I make it gluten free?

Yes – this is already a gluten free recipe – providing you use gluten free stock.
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Can I make it ahead?

Yes, make the cottage pie right up to the point before you put it in the oven. Then quickly cool, cover and refrigerate, along with the gravy. It should be fine in the fridge for up to a day.
Place in the oven straight from the fridge,  for 20-25 minutes at 200C/400F until the potato is golden brown and the meat it starting to bubble up at the sides.
Heat the gravy in a pan until piping hot.
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Will it freeze?

I find the mashed potato can be a little watery after freezing, but so long as the pie is fully defrosted before reheating, the pie should be fine after cooking and crisping up in the oven.
As above make the cottage pie right up to the point before you put it in the oven. Then quickly cool, cover and freeze, along with the gravy.
Defrost in the refrigerator overnight (ensure it’s fully defrosted throughout before reheating), then place in the oven  for 20-25 minutes at 200C/400F until the potato is golden brown and the meat is starting to bubble up at the sides.
Heat the gravy in a pan until piping hot – it may need a splash of water and a whisk to remove any lumps (or you could sieve it).
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Can I make a vegetarian version?

Yes. If I’m making a vegetarian version, I use quorn mince (or similar alternative) with lots of very finely chopped mushrooms. Use a tasty vegetarian stock – such as Knorr vegetable stock pots. You may need to adjust the seasoning, as some vegetable stocks can be quite salty.
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Other variation ideas:

  • Top with cheesy mash – add 150g (1 ½ cups) grated cheddar to the mashed potato.
  • Add bacon bits to the mashed potato.
  • Use sweet potato instead of regular potato.
  • Add in 1 tbsp curry powder, ½ tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp ground cumin and a pinch of chilli flakes when frying the mince for a spicy version. This tastes even better with sweet potato mash on top.
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Nutritional Information is per serving with gravy, but not including the serving suggestion of green vegetables and pickled red cabbage/beetroot. 

Nutritional Information

Calories: 350kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 80mg | Sodium: 990mg | Potassium: 1064mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 2120IU | Vitamin C: 15.5mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 3.2mg
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