Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Cottage pie with cheese crust

Cottage pie is a traditional English dish made with minced meat covered with mashed potato and baked in the oven. Beef or lamb is traditional, although turkey is also used in North America. When minced lamb is used, it is usually called shepherd's pie. Vegetables such as diced carrots, celery, peas or mushrooms are sometimes added to the filling.

Cottage pie with cheese crust

I made a cottage pie for dinner when we had some friends over for dinner last week, mainly due to the tight schedule I had to work with. I couldn't get home till about half an hour before friends arrive so I wanted to do something that only needed heating up or minimal cooking when I got home. So what I did was prepare the vegetables and cook the minced beef filling in the morning and filled the baking dish. After it has cooled, I placed it in the fridge and then left for the office. I then got AP (who got home before I did) to cook and mash the potatoes and all I had to do was spread the mash potatoes on top of the beef mixture, scatter cheese on top and pop it in the oven. While it was baking, I grilled some asparagus to be served as a vegetable side dish. I made lemon cream pie the night before so dessert was sorted and we had good food, good company and good wine for a lovely evening. It took some planning but was totally worth it.

I added grated cheese on top of the mashed potatoes for a savoury crust. You can omit this and just leave the potato topping as it is. Try running a fork across the topping to create lines all over, either straight lines/furrows or random swirls and peaks. It helps the crust to colour nicely in the oven and creates a slightly crispy top.

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

500g minced beef or lamb
1 large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
6-7 button mushrooms, sliced
1-2 carrots, diced
2 tbsp plain flour
200ml beef or vegetable stock
1 tbsp tomato paste
Salt and pepper
3 large or 4 medium potatoes
2-3 tbsp milk
10g butter or to taste
50g grated cheese
Small handful of chopped parsley (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C/gas 6. Peel and cut the potatoes into chunks. Boil in a pan of water for 15-20 minutes until tender. Drain and mash until creamy, adding some butter and/or milk to taste.
2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat some oil in a large heavy based pan. Saute the onions and garlic over medium heat until soft. Add the minced beef and cook over high about 5-8 minutes, breaking up all lumps. Add the mushrooms and carrots and mix.
3. Add the flour and mix well. Slowly add the stock and stir over low heat, simmering until the sauce thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Place the beef mixture onto a baking dish. Spread the mashed potato on top evenly. Scatter the grated cheese over the top and cook in the oven for 40 minutes until the cheese has melted an the top is golden. You may want to pop it under a hot grill for a minute to get a nice crust. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

Related articles:
Chicken and leek pie
Salmon pie


Lizzie said...

Your pie looks lovely. I do believe cottage and shepherds' pies were traditionally made with leftover roasted meats, chopped coarsely. We recently had an office debate on whether tinned tomatoes go in - the answer was a resounding no!

VeggieGirl said...

Such a colorful dish!

Sharon said...

This looks like comfort food at its best!

noobcook said...

This looks really lovely, can you email a slice to me? :D

didally said...

Potato and cheese, these are my comfort food. Very pretty cottage pie.

Nilmandra said...

Lizzie: You're right. I read somewhere that they were traditionally made with leftover roast dinners, chopped up. And leftover potatoes were mashed and used as a topping. Tinned tomatoes??? What an outrage! :p

Veggiegirl: Thank! I do like to make sure there's a range of colours in my dishes. Prettier and more appetising too, don't you think?

Sharon, Didally: Thanks! It's so true, although I do wonder why we always associate comfort food with baked dishes (at least in the Western context) :)

Noobcook: Squishy pie! ;p

candyce said...

Yummy! This is the ultimate comfort food! Looks delicious - and good trick on saving time! :)

noble pig said...

This just makes me feel so warm and cozy. What a great hearty meal!

tigerfish said...

Is this the same as Shepard's pie ?

Nilmandra said...

Candyce: Got to do a bit of time juggling but it all worked out!

Noble pig: Got to be hearty to feed three hungry men ;)

Tigerfish: Yes, it's the same as shepherd's pie except made with minced beef instead of lamb.

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