Cottage Pie


Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


Appears in

Apples for Jam

Apples for Jam

By Tessa Kiros

Published 2010

  • About

You can make one large pie here or use small dishes for individual servings. Just remember how many allspice berries you put in so you can count them out again once the mince is ready. If you prefer not to use wine in your cooking, you could always add some unsweetened grape juice (red or white) instead.


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 750 g(1 lb10 oz) minced (ground) beef
  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 400 ml(14 fl oz) tomato passata (pureed tomatoes)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 allspice berries
  • 4 basil leaves, torn
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 100 g( oz) shelled peas
  • 1.1 kg(2 lb7 oz) potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
  • 40 g( oz) butter
  • 170 ml( fl oz/ cup) milk
  • a little freshly grated nutmeg


    Heat half the oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the mince over fairly high heat for about 10 minutes until it is golden brown, stirring often and breaking up any clusters with a wooden spoon. Pour in the wine and scrape up any bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan. When the wine has evaporated, remove the pan from the heat.

    Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large saucepan. Sauté the onion for 5 minutes or so over low–medium heat until it is lightly golden and a bit sticky. Add the garlic and carrot and sauté for a few minutes more so that the carrot looks a bit caramelly. Add the passata and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the browned mince. Season well with salt and add the bay leaf, allspice berries, basil and parsley. Stir in 500 ml(17 fl oz/2 cups) of hot water. Bring to the boil and then turn the heat to low, cover the pan and cook for 30 minutes. Add the peas and 250 ml(9 fl oz/1 cup) of hot water and simmer uncovered for another 30 minutes. Add a little water if the meat sauce seems very dry; it should neither be runny nor too stiff. Check the seasoning and try to find all the allspice berries.

    Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in salted water for about 30 minutes (depending on their size) until they are soft enough to mash. Drain and, when they’re cool enough to handle, peel and mash or pass through a potato mill. In a small saucepan, heat the butter and milk and, when the butter has melted, add to the potatoes. Add the nutmeg, taste for salt and mix to a soft and fluffy mash (add a dash more butter or milk if it seems too stiff).

    Butter a 2.5 litre(87 fl oz/10 cup) ovenproof dish or 6–8 individual dishes. Spoon in the meat sauce, smoothing the surface, and then spoon mashed potato over the top, spreading it very gently to completely cover the mince. Roughen the mash with a fork here and there so you get some crispy bits. Bake for 30 minutes until the top is softly crusted and golden in places.