A good old fashioned cottage pie.

One of the things I know I am good at in life is cooking and instinctively knowing how to create a tasty dish without a recipe – don’t get me wrong, some meals are common sense and anyone (even those who don’t know how to cook would be able to do) – but for some, most people would follow a recipe step by step. The trouble is, when you cook, you cook largely to your own taste so most recipes end up being quite bland when you cook them and you have to change something so it actually has some flavour! As Christmas approaches, the mornings are frosty and the evenings dark and cold, so naturally, you need a warming meal, that is also easy to do. This recipe is great for anyone, those who work, have families or are not particularly confident when it comes to cooking. It can also be used in a slow cooker or with left over roast beef or lamb to spice it up a bit.

Prep time – 10 minutes. Cooking time – 1hour 30 minutes.

Serves 4-6 people.

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 2 large carrots diced.
  • 2 sticks of celery diced.
  • 2 large white onions diced.
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped.
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes.
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree.
  • 350ml red wine.
  • 400ml cold water.
  • 3 beef stock cubes (crumbled).
  • Thyme (preferably fresh, use a few sprigs to taste).
  • 3-4 bay leaves.
  • Salt/pepper to taste.
  • 2tbsp Worcestershire sauce.
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs.
  • 500g beef mince.

Ingredients for the topping:

  • 5 white potatoes cubed.
  • 2 leeks sliced.
  • 125ml cream/ milk.
  • Large knob of butter.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.


  1. Brown off the mince in a hot pan – drain and set to one side.    img_2128
  2. In the same pan, add 1 tbsp oil and sweat off the onion and garlic for 5 minutes on a medium heat.
  3. Add the carrot and celery and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  4. Add the Worcestershire sauce, mixed herbs, bay leaves, thyme and season to taste with the salt and pepper. Cook on a low heat for 15 minutes.
  5. Add the mince back to the mix, along with 1 can of chopped tomatoes, the tomato puree, red wine and crumble the stock cubes into the mix. Top up with water as and when you need it as your don’t want it to be watery when you serve it. I crumbled the stock cubes in rather than making it up into stock water as I believe it gives the pie a more intense flavour – but again, that’s all down to personal taste! Simmer on a low heat for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom.   img_2130
  6. In the meanwhile, you can prepare the topping. Start with adding the cutting the potaotes into cubes then boiling them until soft.
  7. Slice the leeks and soften in a knob of butter – set to one side when they’re done.
  8. Mash the potatoes, adding the butter, cream/milk and season to taste. When the potatoes are smooth and creamy, stir in the leeks and set to one side.
  9. When the meat mix is ready, remove the bay leaves and spoon into casserole dishes. You can either make individual ones or a big one. Individual ones are good as they can be frozen and used another time if you haven’t got time to cook. Spoon the mash potato mix on top of the meat and sprinkle cheese over the top.
  10. Bake on 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until the meat is bubbling. I like mine with roasted veg and some tomato ketchup!



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