Whatever you like to call it, Cottage Pie or Shepherds Pie is a great comfort dish and one the whole family will enjoy. Some people call it Cottage Pie and others Shepherd's Pie. My Mum tells me that Cottage Pie is made with minced beef whilst Shepherds Pie is made with minced lamb (shepherds look after sheep).
Cottage Pie is a great comfort food dish. Onions and carrots are fried together then minced beef is added. I like to add a tin of chopped tomatoes as well as some beef stock as it makes the gravy just a little bit thicker. A few drops of Worcestershire Sauce will really bring out the flavour. Topping everything with lovely mashed potato make this a great one pot dish. If you like, you can mix the mashed potato half and half with sweet potato. It gives the topping some colour, and adds nutrition and a bit of variety.
More Comfort Food Recipes
Why is it called Cottage Pie?
Cottage Pie is a traditional British dish. Apparently, the name comes from the end of the 18th century when the poorer folk in Britain living in cottages in the country, started using potatoes as an everyday food. At that time, any dish that had mashed potato on top was called a Cottage Pie.
How to Serve it
Cottage Pie is really a meal in itself as it contains meat, vegetables and potato. However, how a dish looks is really important. It's said that we eat with our eyes first and when a dish is more visually appealing, it's more appetizing. For this reason, I would always serve Cottage Pie with a green vegetable. I think peas go nicely, but you can choose any green vegetable you like. A good dollop of ketchup or brown sauce, is also, I think a must.
How do you keep the mash from sinking?
This is a common question, so don't feel you' re alone. You need to make sure you don't have too much liquid. There should be just enough to cover the mince and onions but don't have them swimming in liquid. I use tinned chopped tomatoes in this recipe. Tinned tomatoes can vary quite considerably in their water content. If yours are particularly watery, then add slightly less stock to balance this out. You add the tomatoes before the stock, so you will be able to tell. Some people also suggest allowing the meat to cool slightly before adding the potato to the top. If you get the liquid right, you won't need to do this. Add the mashed potato using a dessert spoon. Start at the edges and work in towards the middle. Use a fork to level it out. This way, it won't be too heavy and shouldn't sink.
Try to buy locally farmed beef if possible. Local beef from grass fed cattle has a much lower carbon footprint than industrially farmed imported beef. Good quality mince will not be too fatty and you won't find very much water at the bottom of your pan when you have fried it. Knowing where your meat comes from is important. You can find more information about this on my Eating Sustainably page. Choosing organic produce where possible is also more sustainable. Organic farming is better for the environment. It produces less pollution, conserves water, reduces soil erosion, increases soil fertility and uses less energy.
This dish can be prepared in advance and simply baked in the oven when you are ready. Store it in the fridge for 3 - 4 days. You can also freeze this for up to 6 months.
Cottage Pie / Shepherds Pie Easy Comfort Food
- 1 kg potatoes or mix potato and sweet potato, organic
- 10 g butter organic (optional)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil organic, fairtrade
- 1 onions organic, peeled and finely chopped
- 750 g lean minced beef organic
- 1 beef stock cube organic
- 400 g chopped tomatoes organic, tinned
- 2 tablespoon tomato puree organic
- 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce organic
- 1 dash salt
- 1 dash freshly ground black pepper fairtrade
- 320 g peas or beans to serve, organic
- Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Peel the potatoes and sweet potato and chop into egg sized pieces. Boil for around [timerminutes=10]10 minutes[/timer] until soft then drain and mash together with a little butter or milk. Leave to one side.
- Pour the oil into a large pan and over a medium heat, fry the onions for around 5 minutes until it is soft.
- Add the mince and fry until it browns. Take care to properly break up the mince in the pan to avoid lumps.
- Add the tinned chopped tomatoes. to the mince with the tomato puree, worcestershire sauce and stir it all together. Check the liquid levels and add enough stock to just cover the mince and onions. Season with salt and pepper
- Transfer to an oven proof dish and spread the mash over the top. Start at the edges and work towards the middle. Level off with a fork. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the top starts to brown.
- Boil or steam the green vegetables until tender and serve everything together.
Nutrition per serving
The Nutritional Values are computer generated estimates based on industry standards and are provided as a helpful guide only.