This recipe makes preparing a cottage pie even easier by using an easy to make tomato sauce as the base for the meat so that you can have a piping hot pie ready to set on the table all the way from the initial prep work in just over an hour.
Simple Cottage PieServes: 4
For the Filling:500g lean minced (ground) beef
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 celery sticks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
400g (14 oz) tin chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato purée
300ml (1 1/4 cups) beef stock
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch) mixed to a smooth slurry with 1 tbsp water
salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
For the Topping:1 kg floury potatoes (eg King Edwards or Maris Piper), peeled, boiled until tender and mashed until smooth with 125ml (1/2 cup) milk
Method:Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion, garlic, celery and carrots and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until softened.
Add the mince and fry, stirring frequently to break up any large lumps, until nicely browned. Now add the thyme, tinned tomatoes, tomato purée and beef stock. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce to a simmer, cover the pan and cook gently, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and the cornflour slurry and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens slightly. Turn into the base of an ovenproof baking dish.
Season the potatoes then spread the mash over the top of the mince mixture. Now use the back of a fork to rough up the mixture then transfer to an oven pre-heated to 200ºC (400ºF, Gas Mark 6) and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the potato topping is golden brown and the meat mixture is bubbling.
For a basic shepherd's pie replace the minced beef with minced lamb. For a basic huntsman's pie replace the minced beef with minced venison.