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Heather Brown - Food writer, photographer, website help and recipes


This tasty cottage pie recipe is my adaptation of my Mum’s recipe that I fondly remember sitting down to eat with some gravy, some garden peas and a large spoonful of Branston Pickle. I don’t know quite if thats the norm, but it really does work!

If you wanted to make this recipe a little fancier, you could add some full flavoured cheddar cheese to the mash potato, or even some softened, chopped leeks. I usually serve it simply with some peas or sweetcorn, but any fresh veg would go well. You can also ‘hide’ lots of extra veg inside the pie (peppers, courgettes, carrots etc), just chop them small and add them with the onions to cook down gently at the start of the process.



For the mashed potatoes...

  • 6-8 large potatoes

  • 2-3 tbsp milk

  • 4 tbsp butter

  • Salt to taste

For the meat Filling...

  • 500g lean steak mince

  • 1tsp oil

  • 1 large white onion

  • 10 - 12 mushrooms Black pepper

  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme

  • 1 beef stock cube

  • 25ml port/50ml red wine

  • 1tbsp soy sauce

  • 1tsp honey


Boil a large saucepan full of salty water. Peel and chop your potatoes and add to the boiling water. Boil the potatoes for about 15 minutes or until starting to soften to the touch. Drain the water, leaving the potatoes in the pan. Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes, adding in all of the butter. Keep mashing and then add the milk until the mixture is smooth, a little at a time. I find that potatoes always need more mashing than I thought!

Whilst the potatoes are boiling, preheat the oven to 200 fan (Gas 6).

In a large frying pan, over a medium heat, add the oil. Peel and chop the onion and add to the pan. Then chop and add the mushrooms and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring so that the onions and mushrooms begin to colour. Then add the mince and stir throughly. (Tip - if you are making this recipe for more than 4 people, you can cook the mince in the oven first - just lay the mince out in a thin layer over a large baking sheet and cook in the oven for 5-10 minutes until it begins to brown, then add to the pan and continue the recipe as normal).

When the beef is cooked through and beginning to colour, add the red wine/port and stir through. This will also take off the bottom of the pan any delicious crispy bits. Then add the soy sauce, honey, a couple of grinds of black pepper and the thyme and give it a good mix through.

Mix the beef stock cube with 100ml boiling water and add to the pan. Stir this through and allow the flavours to mix together. Allow the sauce to reduce slightly.

Then it is time to put the pie together. In a medium sized, oven proof dish, tip in the mince mixture. Then carefully spoon on top the mash potato (one heaped spoonful at a time - it is easier to spread out that way). Once all the mash is on the pie, run a fork through the top to give it lots of peaks to get crispy in the oven.

Cook in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the top is golden and crispy.

This pie can also be made ahead and reheated simply by popping back into a hot oven for 10 minutes.



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