This rich and indulgent recipe for the Ultimate Cottage Pie is the perfect British classic to enjoy on a cold and blustery evening.
- 1 large brown onion
- 2 carrots
- 1 stick celery
- generous glug light oil
- sea salt
- 400g (14 oz) beef mince
- 1 tbsp plain (all purpose) flour
- 3 tbsp tomato puree
- pinch golden caster sugar
- 300ml (1 1/4 cups) beef or chicken stock (made with 1 stock cube)
- 150ml (2/3 cups) red wine
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 750g (1.6 lb) floury potatoes
- large knob butter
- generous splash milk
- large handful frozen petit pois
- freshly ground black pepper
- Peel and finely chop the onion, carrots and celery. Heat a splash of oil in a large shallow casserole dish or saucepan over a medium high heat. Add the vegetables with a generous pinch of salt and gently fry for 6-8 minutes until soft and the onions are just starting to turn golden.
- Add the beef mince and fry, breaking the meat up with your spoon until all the meat is browned. This should take a further 6-8 minutes.
- Stir in the flour, followed by the tomato puree. Cook for a further minute until the mixture is thick and the puree has turned brick red.
- Stir in the stock, wine, Worcestershire sauce and thyme. Season with a little more salt and a lot of black pepper. Allow to bubble away for 20 minutes until the mixture is rich and thick, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, to make the mashed potato topping peel all the potatoes and cut them into chunks as if you were making roast potatoes. Add them to a large saucepan, add a generous pinch of salt and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil over a high heat. Cook until tender, drain, and mash with a generous knob of butter and a splash of milk. Add more milk as required to get smooth, spoonable mash, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees (430 farenheit).
- Remove the beef sauce from the heat and stir in the frozen peas, seasoning to taste with more salt and pepper as needed.
- Spoon the beef mixture into a deep baking dish (you may need to make more mash next time if you find your pie does not quite fit into your baking dish, mine is 8 x 8 inches if that helps!) and smooth over to create a flat surface. Then, spoon over the mashed potato, using a rubber spatula to smooth it into the edges. Using a fork, create ridges in the potato; this will help it get a nice crispy topping in the oven.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is crisp and golden. Serve alongside seasonal greens.