This is a relative of cottage pie, and a rather attractive one at that.


  • 2 lb (900 g) potatoes, peeled and boiled
  • 1 lb (450 g) onions, chopped
  • 1 lb (450 g) minced beef
  • 2 x 14 oz (400 g) cans chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato purée
  • Sprig of thyme
  • Chopped parsley
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 oz (25 g) butter
  • 1 oz (25 g) flour
  • ¾ pint (400 ml) milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 oz (110 g) cheese


While the potatoes are cooking, cook the onions in a little oil until transparent, add the minced beef and brown. Add the tomatoes, tomato purée and seasoning. Cook for several minutes.

Prepare a sauce with the butter, flour and milk, flavouring with the bay leaf, and finally add the cheese.

When the potatoes are soft, drain well and make a purée.

Put half the meat in the bottom of a casserole dish, then half the tomato sauce, half the cheese sauce and then repeat. Cover with the potato purée (dot with more butter if required) and put in a hot oven (gas mark 7/425°F/220°C) to brown.

‘You wouldn’t love a man with a potato-nose.’

From Asphodel by Elizabeth Braddon, c. 1870.