Historically I have just thrown together vegetables, beef mince and a Maggi Cottage Pie packet mix. This all stopped when I discovered the Cottage Pie recipe in my Grandmas Special Recipes cookbook. I have owned this cookbook for a while but due to moving a lot during university, and to the South Island following university this cookbook didn’t manage to follow me to my new home until recently. I have got so excited about having it around to try out some new takes on traditional recipes that I have basically post-it noted every second page.
This cottage pie recipe is delicious, the flavours it brings out are rich, comforting and warming. This dish had a deeper level of flavour than I was expecting. The worcestershire and soy sauces really add a lot and give this dish its hearty flavour. When I was preparing this dish I really had no idea what typical flavours make up a cottage pie due to always using a packet mix. It was fair to say I was a pit apprehensive going into it, and as such got myself super organised that it probably took me longer than it would take a normal person. I absolutely loved this cottage pie the first time I had it. I have a soft spot for rich mince meals. My spaghetti bolognese is always drowned in tomatoes and so this recipe really hit the spot. The bay leaves do add a lot as well as the beef stock. Both of these ingredients really add to the rich taste of this meal, just remember to remove the bay leaves before assembling in your baking dish.
The second time I made this dish I supplemented the beef stock for red wine, mainly just wanting to try this out as I almost always add red wine to any spaghetti bolognese or chilli con carne I make. Having the red wine instead (I used Pinot Noir) softens the flavour. I only added about 3/4 c red wine, otherwise this would have made the sauce much too runny to bake in the oven. The beef stock definitely adds to the power of the meal, and if you are wanting a cottage pie that will really warm you from the inside on a cold winters day I would suggest making this recipe as is. As we are heading into summer in the southern hemisphere the red wine was a nice touch.
With the topping I am a bit more traditional and prefer the topping to be just potatoes. But you can change this around to your desires. Sometimes for a bit of fun we mash the potatoes with the skins on, which adds texture as well as a higher nutritional value. Not only is this quicker (or lazier) but it fits well atop a cottage pie with the myriad of textures to the mince and vegetables cooked into the pie. Using kumara instead of potato will make this dish healthier again. Or you could do a mixed mash of potato, kumara and parsnips. Entirely up to your tastes.
Please make sure you do all three steps at once. For example turn the oven on and then get your pot of boiling water going for the potatoes before you start the mince mixture or you will be in the kitchen forever. Also if you want to add a bit of spice to the dish then sprinkle grated cheese and smoked paprika over top of the potato mixture when you have spooned it into the baking dish.
See recipe below as I cannot locate it online –
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 celery stick, diced
- 1kg beef mince
- 2 T plain flour
- 1 1/2 c beef stock
- 1 T soy sauce
- 1 T worcestershire sauce
- 2 T tomato sauce
- 1 T tomato paste
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 t chopped fresh parsley
- 800g potatoes, diced
- 400g parsnips, diced
- 30g butter
- 1/2 c milk
1 Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and cook the onion, carrot and celery stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until softened and lightly coloured. Add the mince and cook for 7 minutes, then stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Add the stock, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, tomato paste and bay leaves and simmer over a low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Leave to cool. Remove the bay leaves and stir in the parsley.
2 To make the topping boil the potato and parsnip in salted water for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through. Drain, return to the pan and mash with the butter and enough milk to make a firm mash.
3 Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and lightly grease a 10 cup (2.5 litre) ovenproof dish. Spoon the filling into the dish and spread the topping over it. Fluff with a fork. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden.