Cottage pie


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

A Simple Table

A Simple Table

By Michele Cranston

Published 2016

  • About

I almost didn’t include this recipe because I wondered if anyone needed a recipe for savoury mince, but it’s such a golden oldie and always a family favourite that, in the end, I decided it was a must. As a little twist, I’ve topped the cottage pie with thin rounds of potato, but if your nostalgic heart runs to buttery mash or a grated cheese topping, then by all means go with tradition. And if there are any leftovers, reheated savoury mince on toast will always make the heart sing on a cold day.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) minced (ground) beef
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 2 zucchini (courgettes), grated
  • 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) vegetable stock
  • 400 g (14 oz) tinned diced tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 large (600 g/1 lb 5 oz) all-purpose potatoes, such as desiree
  • 50 g ( oz) butter, melted
  • 1 small handful thyme sprigs


Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and fry for 3-4 minutes, or until lightly browned, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Increase the heat to high, add the beef and cook, stirring, for 8-10 minutes, or until browned.

Add the carrot, zucchini, stock, tomatoes, rosemary and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, or until all the liquid has evaporated and the meat sauce is thick. Remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and put them in a ceramic dish. Cover and microwave for 3 minutes on High (100%). Remove and set aside to cool.

Remove the bay leaves from the meat sauce and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spoon the meat sauce into a 1.5 litre (52 fl oz/6 cup) ovenproof dish and smooth the top.

Thinly slice the potatoes and arrange them over the top of the meat sauce. Brush with the melted butter and sprinkle with the thyme sprigs. Cover with a piece of baking paper, then a piece of foil pressed around the side of the dish to hold the paper in place and seal the dish. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and baking paper and bake for a further 20 minutes, or until browned.