Cottage pie in a rectangular dish with portion taken out

Cottage pie

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(442 ratings)

Prep: 35 mins Cook: 1 hr, 50 mins

Easy

Serves 10

This great-value family favourite freezes beautifully and is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal600
  • fat34g
  • saturates16g
  • carbs40g
  • sugars7g
  • fibre4g
  • protein37g
  • salt1.15g
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Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
    olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

  • 1¼kg beef mince
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
    Onion

    Onion

    un-yun

    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 3 carrots, chopped
    Carrot

    Carrot

    ka-rot

    The carrot, with its distinctive bright orange colour, is one of the most versatile root…

  • 3 celery sticks, chopped
    Celery

    Celery

    sell-er-ee

    A collection of long, thick, juicy stalks around a central, tender heart, celery ranges in…

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • large glass red wine (optional)
  • 850ml beef stock
  • 4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • few thyme sprigs

    Thyme

    This popular herb grows in Europe, especially the Mediterranean, and is a member of the mint…

  • 2 bay leaves

For the mash

  • 1.8kg potatoes, chopped
    Potato

    Potato

    po-tate-oh

    The world's favourite root vegetable, the potato comes in innumerable varieties. A member of…

  • 225ml milk

    Milk

    mill-k

    One of the most widely used ingredients, milk is often referred to as a complete food. While cow…

  • 25g butter
    Butter

    Butter

    butt-err

    Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…

  • 200g strong cheddar, grated
    Cheddar

    Cheddar

    Ched-ah

    Once cheddar was 'Cheddar', a large, hard-pressed barrel of cheese made by a particular…

  • freshly grated nutmeg
    Nutmeg

    Nutmeg

    nut-meg

    One of the most useful of spices for both sweet and savoury

Method

  1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan and fry 1¼ kg beef mince until browned – you may need to do this in batches. Set aside as it browns.

  2. Put the other 2 tbsp olive oil into the pan, add 2 finely chopped onions, 3 chopped carrots and 3 chopped celery sticks and cook on a gentle heat until soft, about 20 mins.

  3. Add 2 finely chopped garlic cloves, 3 tbsp plain flour and 1 tbsp tomato purée, increase the heat and cook for a few mins, then return the beef to the pan.

  4. Pour over a large glass of red wine, if using, and boil to reduce it slightly before adding the 850ml beef stock, 4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, a few thyme sprigs and 2 bay leaves.

  5. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 45 mins. By this time the gravy should be thick and coating the meat. Check after about 30 mins – if a lot of liquid remains, increase the heat slightly to reduce the gravy a little. Season well, then discard the bay leaves and thyme stalks.

  6. Meanwhile, make the mash. In a large saucepan, cover the 1.8kg potatoes which you've peeled and chopped, in salted cold water, bring to the boil and simmer until tender.

  7. Drain well, then allow to steam-dry for a few mins. Mash well with the 225ml milk, 25g butter, and three-quarters of the 200g strong cheddar cheese, then season with freshly grated nutmeg and some salt and pepper.

  8. Spoon the meat into 2 ovenproof dishes. Pipe or spoon on the mash to cover. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese.

  9. If eating straight away, heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7 and cook for 25-30 mins, or until the topping is golden.

  10. If you want to use a slow cooker, brown your mince in batches then tip into your slow cooker and stir in the vegetables, flour, purée, wine, stock, Worcestershire sauce and herbs with some seasoning. Cover and cook on High for 4-5 hours. Make the mash following the previous steps, and then oven cook in the same way to finish.

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Comments, questions and tips

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Jay Smerdon's picture
Jay Smerdon
12th Jun, 2019
5.05
I made this tonight, doing two versions, one meat and one vegetarian using Quorn mince. Yes it took a while but the wait was worth it. Absolutely delicious. I used a lot of pots and pans but washed up as I went along which was easier. Lovely recipe.
hilary doyle
3rd May, 2019
@kerry Rastas Woman after my own heart lol !!
bethbiscuits
23rd Apr, 2019
I will make this recipe again but definitely won’t be using the olive oil, it’s completely unnecessary. I used 5% fat minced beef and wish I hadn’t bothered using oil, as it just tastes oily and disgusting.
Megan Ann's picture
Megan Ann
23rd Apr, 2019
4.05
The gravy took a long time to reduce. Otherwise the recipe was great. I did substitute ground turkey for the beef and it was still delicious
Kerry Rastas's picture
Kerry Rastas
8th Apr, 2019
3.05
This has taken me the best part of the afternoon to cook. Yes, it's easy, but I've used every dish in the house, burnt the bottom of the pan and eaten half the mashed potato while waiting for the gravy to reduce. I should also mention that I have also consumed much of the leftover wine while waiting and am now half sozzled. These 5 star reviews better be right and dinner better taste amazing, but if not at least I had an excuse for an afternoon tipple
scottyj1980
12th Jun, 2019
5.05
just let it flow whilst you drink a bottle of wine! the results are incredible, although i half everything as there is only 2 of us.
hilary doyle
3rd May, 2019
Any Irish in you? Cause that is the way to enjoy cooking!!!!! but the clean up is a pig ......just finish the bottle lol! believe me. Still giggling at your post, woman after my own heart hahahahaha!
Emma Loader's picture
Emma Loader
20th Mar, 2019
5.05
Absolutely delicious! I put in a bit more garlic and an extra tbsp of Worcester sauce. This will be my go to recipe from now on
Emma-Jane Walsh
21st Feb, 2019
5.05
Great recipe- to make it richer and more dinner party friendly I made a few adaptations. Double the garlic, fry off bacon lardons till crisp in another pan and add midway through cooking the mince mix, also added fresh Thyme and cooked with fresh Rosemary sprigs that I removed before baking. Also a bit of salt and black pepper. You couldn’t taste any of this individually- it just gave it a more rounded flavour. I did do the wine and the stock.
Tyranosauruswrecks
10th Feb, 2019
5.05
I made this tonight. Really tasty and my very fussy eater of a son, gobbled it up (he helped make it too, which could have made a difference).

Pages

pj.black
14th Jul, 2019
I thought if you use cheese it’s a Cumberland pie. Cottage pie hasn’t got any cheese. Am I right?
goodfoodteam's picture
goodfoodteam
16th Jul, 2019
Thanks for your comment. We find the cheese makes a great addition to cottage pie but it is true Cumberland pie tends to refer to the addition of cheese and breadcrumbs too.
myates1986
16th Mar, 2019
It says it freezes well. Has anyone done this? If so, what did you do? Any tips. Do you freeze it with the mash on? Do you freeze it fully cooked?
goodfoodteam's picture
goodfoodteam
16th Mar, 2019
Thanks for your question. Our freezing tips are: allow to cool completely after step 8, cover with cling film and freeze on the day of making. Defrost in the fridge overnight and cook as above or to cook from frozen, heat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan/ gas 4, cover with foil and cook for 1 1/2 hours . Uncover, increase the oven to 220C/ 200C fan/ gas 7 and cook until golden and bubbling.
Kimthomas1986
14th Feb, 2019
Can this be prepared in advance and the cooked in the oven a few hours later
goodfoodteam's picture
goodfoodteam
15th Feb, 2019
Thanks for your question. Yes, you can prepare this in advance, even the day before, and then cook in the oven. Once cooled, put it in the fridge. Then cook as above. You may need to add another 5 mins or so to the cooking time if fridge-cold.
Melanie Linieres's picture
Melanie Linieres
2nd Jan, 2019
Hi, do you need to reduce the amount of liquid you add if you cook this in a slow cooker? Thanks
goodfoodteam's picture
goodfoodteam
2nd Jan, 2019
Thanks for your question. For a slow cooker cottage pie (you can use beef or lamb in the recipe), we recommend trying this: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/slow-cooker-shepherds-pie
Harvi
1st Jul, 2018
Hi there. After browning the meat, it says to cook the vegetables in oil for 20 minutes (or until soft) and then mix in everything, cook for an additional 45 minutes. So why can't I just skip the step 2 as surely the vegetables will get plenty cooked during the 45 minutes simmer period? In other words, why the need to cook the vegetables separately, adding 20 minutes to the process? Thanks for guidance!
scottyj1980
5th Sep, 2018
5.05
Don't mess with the dish it's the most perfect recipe you can cook.

Pages

scottyj1980
12th Jun, 2019
5.05
Don't deviate from the recipe, it's cracking!
mimi19836
11th Sep, 2018
5.05
This is the BEST recipe! I make it for my small children so leave out the wine, but it is still absolutely delicious! Thanks!
Leannejh
29th Aug, 2018
5.05
Fab recipe. I used lazy garlic as didn't any have fresh and as im a vegi and Worcestershire sauce has fish in it i used miso paste to replace it. Substituting was easy. The Quorn version was a hit.
spindoctor's picture
spindoctor
5th Feb, 2018
5.05
A quick tip to speed up cooking. Do what the professionals do when making a dish with mince. Brown the mince in the oven. Spread mince out on a baking tray and put into a hot oven, gas mark 8 or 180-200 degrees brown for about 6-10 minutes. drain of the fat and then add it to the pan when the recipe suggests
up-the-baggies
11th Mar, 2016
5.05
You MUST allow it to cool down before adding the mash
johnjustice
20th Mar, 2015
5.05
Have just made this again as we have family staying with us. As usual the taste of this recipe is superb but I did ring the changes somewhat with the topping. Having read a Mary Berry recipe for a similar dish I used her suggestion. Simply boil enough baby new potatoes, skin on to cover the dish. I crushed them lightly in the pan then arranged them on the cold filling. Finally topped off with grated cheddar and cooked at 200c. fan for 30 - 35 mins. Superb and an interesting variation for the topping. Served with cut beans and peas.
gemma99
17th Oct, 2013
I reheated a full pie last night and put it in the oven at 160deg (covered with foil) for around half an hour. it was piping hot and didn't burn
cgibson1989's picture
cgibson1989
8th Sep, 2013
i personally don't have a microwave so when all cooked i cut into potions and put in freezer bags. after defrosting pie i heat fan assisted oven too 180 degrees and cook for 10minutes
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