There's nothing nicer on a cold, dark evening than to come home to big dish of bubbling cottage pie. It's one of those autumn/winter dishes that never fails to delight even the pickiest children. Cottage Pie is a variation on the equally well known Shepherd's Pie, using minced or ground beef instead of lamb. The result is as comforting and generous and it is just as easy to prepare.
There are a few differences, though.
I brown the mince with onion and mushrooms, but I also like to add a
couple of soaked, sun-dried tomatoes to the mix to deepen the flavour. A
or two of Worcestershire sauce doesn't go amiss, either. And for the
topping I like a mix of mashed potato and swede in true winter style, or
even mashed potato
and carrot if you like to add a little extra colour.
You can serve your mash-topped pie either in a large, family-sized pie dish, or in individual pie dishes.
Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onion and mushrooms until soft.
Add the mince and cook until brown. Stir frequently to stop it catching.
Drain most of the oil from the pan before stirring in the flour. Cook until most of the remaining fat has been absorbed, then add the tomatoes (or puree), sun-dried tomatoes and the water they've soaked in, Worcestershire Sauce, stock powder and stock.
Stir well, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to Gas mark 4-5, 180-190°C, 350-375°F. Place the filling into an oven-proof pie dish and spread the mashed potato and swede mix on top. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, or until the top is brown.
Serve with peas, carrots and steamed broccoli on the side.