My delicious cottage pie recipe – Beef and root vegetables in a rich gravy, topped with mashed potatoes and melted cheese.
The great thing about this cottage pie recipe is that it’s so flexible. This is my favourite way to make it, but if I’ve got different vegetables to use up in the fridge then I’ll happily chuck those in instead.
The other great thing is that it’s packed full of healthy vegetables, so gives you two of your five-a-day. Serve it with lots of peas (as I like to do) then you’re up to three.
This cottage pie recipe can easily be multiplied to serve more people or to make extra to chill or freeze to save for later. The only ingredient that you shouldn’t simply multiply is the stock, you should keep the amount of stock about the same as it is here (if you multiply it up it won’t reduce down and your pie filling will be very wet).
If you want to freeze the pie to save for later, freeze it before baking. I tend to freeze the potato and filling separately and then defrost them and assemble. I prefer to do it this way as it means I don’t lose one of my baking trays into the freezer until I’m ready to eat the pie. However, you can freeze it assembled if you prefer. Just make sure you defrost it fully in the fridge before cooking.
One of the rules I set myself when I started Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen was that I would be as exact as possible with the weights and measures for my ingredients. I get quite frustrated when I’m cooking something new and I’m asked to add a knob of butter or a pinch of salt, I like things to be exact. I’d rather include more information than people need, so that a complete beginner can follow one of my recipes, then if someone more experienced comes along they can ignore the detail if they want. However, I’ve found it a real challenge to stick to this rule when writing this recipe. When I make cottage pie at home I tend to just put in what feels about right. I’ve had to make myself weigh everything this week just to be able to add them here.
For the beef and root vegetable filling
- 500 g extra lean steak mince
- 1 onion
- 500 g root vegetables - My favourites to use are two large carrots and half a small swede but you can mix and match your favourites
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp ruby port
- 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
- 800 ml beef stock - or 2 beef stock cubes and 800ml water
- 2 bay leaves
- a few sprigs of thyme
- salt and pepper
For the mash
- 500 g potatoes
- 75 ml milk
- 30 g butter
- 40 g cheddar cheese
To avoid the instructions getting too confusing I have separated making the beef filling and the mashed potatoes into different sections. However, these two sections should be completed simultaneously.
Start by chopping the vegetables for the filling and then fit in chopping and cooking the potatoes while the filling is cooking.
Also, remember to pre-heat the oven while the filling is cooking on the hob.
Make the beef filling
- Chop the vegetables - Peel the root vegetables (500g) and chop into small chunks. Finely chop the onion (1 onion) and garlic (2 cloves).
- Heat half the olive oil (½ tbsp) in a large pan. Fry the mince (500g) until it browns. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Add the rest of the olive oil to the pan (½ tbsp). Add the chopped root vegetables and onion (not the garlic) and cook on a low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure that they don't burn.
- Add the garlic, flour (1 tbsp) and tomato purée (1 tbsp) and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Return the beef to the pan and add the port (2 tbsp), worcestershire sauce (1 tbsp), beef stock (800ml), bay leaves (2 leaves) and thyme (a few sprigs). Bring to the boil and cook uncovered for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally - You want the gravy to be quite thick, if there's a lot of liquid in the pan towards the end of the cooking time then turn up the heat a little. Similarly, if it's becoming too thick, then add a little more water to ensure it doesn't burn
- Season with salt and pepper - I prefer to season towards the end of the cooking time once the sauce has reduced
- Once cooked, remove the bay leaves and thyme stalks
Make the mashed potato
- Peel and chop the potatoes
- Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook the potatoes for about 20 minutes, until soft
- Drain the potatoes and return to the pan
- Add the milk (75ml) and butter (30g) and mash until smooth
- Season with salt
Make the pie
- Pre-heat the oven to 220ºC/200ºC fan
- Grate the cheese (40g)
- Fill the base of an oven-proof dish with the beef filling and spread evenly
- Evenly spread the mashed potato onto of the beef filling
- Sprinkle over the grated cheese
- Cook for 25 minutes, then serve
Free From/Suitable For…
The ingredients I used to make this recipe are all free from the following allergens. However, please check any labels carefully for allergens you need to avoid as brands can vary and product recipes can change over time.
- Tree Nut-Free