British winters may be long but it feels like George Martin got hold of this one. So cottage pie isn’t yet out of season in our household.
It’s easy to see why cottage pie is a British staple. Little beats walking into a toasty kitchen on a cold evening to be greeted by the comforting smell of cottage pie on the go.
To be honest, all you really need is a simple bolognese recipe. It may take a while to make, but it’s just so damn delicious. And amazingly versatile to boot. Can’t fit it all in your roasting dish, no worries; spoon over fresh pasta for spaghetti bolognese or serve on toast for a simple snack.
what you’ll need
Equipment: bolognese: large saucepan with a lid. cottage pie: roasting dish/casserole dish, saucepan, potato masher.
- 1 white onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 20g butter
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped
- 6 medium mushrooms, sliced
- 100g veg stock
- 400g minced beef
- 500g passata
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 800g potatoes, peeled and diced into even chunks.
- 50g butter
making the bolognese:
Toss your butter, onion and garlic into a large saucepan and place over a medium/high heat. Add the dried herbs and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the onions start to caramelise.
Throw in your carrots and mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes or so, until the carrots soften and the mushrooms begin to brown.
Pour in your vegetable stock and reduce to a syrupy consistency.
Add your mince and cook, stirring until its browned.
Pour in your passata, the balsamic vinegar and tomato paste. Season to taste before bringing to the boil, then turn down to a low heat. Place a lid on top with a small gap and simmer for 30 minutes.
Remove the lid and simmer for at least 30 minutes more – it can cook for longer so keep going till you get the consistency you desire.
Spoon into a roasting dish/casserole dishes and leave to cool. Place into the fridge once cool or freeze for later use. You need the mince cold before you put the mashed potato on top to keep the two layers separate.
making cottage pie:
Preheat your oven/bbq to 180C.
Throw your potatoes into a large pan and top with water and a couple of pinches of salt. Place over high heat and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until tender.
Drain and allow to steam dry for a couple of minutes. Either throw back into a large saucepan and mash or use a ricer. Add the butter and season well – add a splash of milk or cream for a really decadent mash.
Either spoon or pipe your mash over cold mince. If you’ve spooned it over finish by running a fork lengthways for a smart contemporary look. Season again and cover with foil.
Cook in you oven/bbq for an hour, removing the foil halfway through. You should have a nicely browned, crisp topping.
Serve immediately or leave to cool and freeze for a rainy day. To cook from frozen, place the roasting dish into a cold oven covered with foil. Turn the oven to 180C and cook, setting the timer for 30 minutes once the oven is up to temperature.8