Cottage Pie is a great way of sneaking some extra veg into the kids’ diets. Finely chop vegetables along with the mince and you get a deliciously savoury meal under a fluffy mashed potato topping.
This recipe is loosely based on a James Martin dish I found on the BBC website – despite my extensive collection of books the Beeb is the go-to place for inspiration! The main difference is I sneak a few extra veggies into my version. The sweetness of the balsamic vinegar works really well and this has become a firm family favourite, and not just with the kids. I use a ricer to make light work of the mashing and ensure there aren’t any lumps. Peas work well as an accompaniment, although I usually cook up a few carrots too for fussy boy who thinks peas are the devil’s food.
- 1.5kg potatoes, peeled and cut into even sized pieces
- 75g butter
- 150ml milk
- 400ml beef stock
- 200ml red wine
- 75ml balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, peeled, finely chopped
- 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
- 3 carrots, peeled, finely chopped
- 750g beef mince
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
- For the mashed potato topping, boil the potatoes for 15-20 minutes or until tender, then add the butter and milk and mash to a smooth consistency. Season to taste.
- For the filling, in a saucepan bring the beef stock, red wine, and balsamic vinegar to the boil and simmer for 10-12 minutes, or until the volume of the liquid has reduced by half.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan and fry the onions, celery and carrots until softened. Add the beef mince and continue to cook for 4-5 minutes, or until browned all over. Stir in the plain flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, then stir in the reduced stock mixture and add the bay leaf.
- Simmer the mixture for 45-60 minutes, or until the mince is tender and the sauce has thickened. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- To assemble, spoon the cooked mince into a baking dish and pipe or spoon the mashed potato on top.
- Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden-brown and bubbling..