This is one of those recipes that’s been mixed up a bit here and there as time’s passed. A lot of the inspiration came from how my Mum made this when I was a kid. It’s one of mine and my husband’s favourite meals, and despite the fact it would probably make any professional chef weep in despair over the deviation from classic versions, it’s absolutely delicious.
I personally call it ‘shepherds pie’, but since I don’t use lamb (normally pork and beef mince) it’s technically cottage pie. To save any arguments, I’m going to refer to it as both!*
I’m not going to give any indication of how long it would take to make, I sort of amble around the kitchen paying no attention to time so your guess is as good as mine on that.
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 onions, chopped however you want them
400g minced beef
2 tins chopped tomatoes
2 tins baked beans
2-3 carrots, sliced
2-3 beef stock cubes (depending on how beefy you want it to taste)
Tablespoon of tomato puree
A bunch of boiled potatoes
A tablespoon of butter
A little milk
A handful or two of chopped spinach (optional)
Fry the mince, onion and garlic in a large pan. Once it’s browned a bit, add crush up the beef stock cubes and mix it in.
Strain the juice from the chopped tomatoes, keeping the juice to one side (you may need it later) and mix them in. Strain the baked beans and mix those in too, discarding the sauce they’re in.
Add the carrots and tablespoon of tomato puree.
Bring to the boil and mix it all up. If it’s a bit dry, add in some of the tomato juice, bit by bit, until you’ve got the desired runnyness.
Leave to simmer for 20-25 minutes.
Boil the potatoes until they’re fully cooked. Drain the water from the pan and add in the tablespoon of butter. If the mash isn’t sufficiently smooth after a violent mashing, or seems a little dry, add a bit of milk to the mix and mash it violently a bit further. Once it’s smooth, mix in the chopped spinach (if you’ve decided to go that route), some black pepper, salt, or whatever else you feel might work. Or just have it as plain mashed potato, whatever works for you!
Put the mince mix into the bottom of a large, oven-proof dish.
Spoon the mashed potato onto the top of it, starting around the egdes (it’ll sink into the mix a bit, starting at the edges will help you judge how thick your mash layer is) and working inwards.
Make sure the entire mince layer is covered with mash and then run a fork over it lightly, making grooves across the surface in pretty patterns so that it’s pricked up a little. The raised bits will become crispy after it’s been in the oven.
You can also top it with grated cheddar cheese before placing it in the oven, giving you a crispy cheesy topping to the mash.
Put it in the oven at 180C for 40-45 minutes.
Personally I like to eat it with a bit of ketchup, but it works perfectly fine on it’s own.
*Allergy advice: This recipe does not contain any shepherds or cottages, however it may be produced in an environment containing shepherds and/or cottages, so caution is advised.