Sunday, 1 September 2013

Cottage Pie

I've just been away to Paris for a long weekend, to celebrate a significant anniversary. We had an absolutely wonderful time - despite buying a book of 10 metro tickets, we only used 3 each - to get from the airport, to get to Montmartre, and to get back to the airport. We walked and walked, and ate and drank, and slept. It was fab.

Part of the reason why it was so fab was that I felt freer from responsibility and forward planning than in day-to-day life. However, with usual uptighted-ness, everything was planned to the nth detail in the run-up - including a weekly plan and a drill of instructions for our nanny and my in-laws, and late-night cooking the day before we left - in case the children starved without me!

So there I was once again, piping mashed potato gone midnight. I mentioned in a previous post that M&S cottage pie was one of those great, exotic, non-Chinese dishes we were allowed to buy every so often, and it still brings me comfort, especially with a portion of rice. This recipe has a really tasty mince, with a few unusual ingredients in the sauce.


  • 500g beef mince
  • 2 medium onions, chopped finely
  • 250ml beef stock
  • 1tbsp sunflower oil for frying
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1-2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1-2 tbsp Marmite
  • 1 tbs worcester sauce (has to be Lea and Perrins for me)
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce for colour
  • Plenty of ground black pepper
  • Approx 1kg white floury potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • (Optional) 1 handful of grated cheddar cheese
  • 25g butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk
  • Salt and ground black pepper
Serves 4


  • Heat the sunflower oil in a heavy bottomed pan, and add the onions. Fry on a medium heat for 5-7 minutes, until softened - don't let the onions catch and burn
  • Add the beef mince and turn up the heat, turning until the mince is browned
  • Add the plain flour to the mixture and stir to mix in thoroughly. Cook for 2-3 minutes
  • Add the beef stock, worcester sauce, tomato puree, Marmite, dark soy sauce and plenty of ground black pepper. Stir to combine well, cover the pan and reduce the heat. Cook for 45 minutes until the flavours are well combined and the sauce is thickened
  • Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. Boil gently for 25 minutes, then drain and return to the pan. Mash the potatoes, then add the butter and milk, with a touch of salt and ground black pepper. Adjust the milk until you have the consistency you require. Allow the potatoes to cool slightly whilst the mince is cooking
  • Place the mince into a large baking dish

Mince for cottage pie - dark soy sauce gives it that lovely rich colour
  • Add the potato on top, either spooning the mash on top, or piping it - working from the outside of the dish into the centre, and add a sprinkling of grated cheddar cheese on top if you like
(1 kg of potatoes gave me just under 2 layers of mash piped on top. You'll use more if you spoon the potato on top, but it should be ok)

Piped mashed potato and a sprinkling of grated cheddar
  • Place in the oven at 185 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the mashed potato is browned and crispy on top (I let this cool and left it in the fridge overnight for heating up the next day

Cottage pie


  1. Sara kindly made me one of these after recently having baby no 3. It went down a treat with the family and very tasty and yummy... The piped potatoe made it look great! Will def be stealing this one! Thanks again Sara for sharing xx

    1. I'm so glad your family liked it! Looking forward to seeing you at the weekend xx