I grew up with cottage pie and it is truly one of my favorite dishes to make. It’s home. There is ‘unhealthy’ ways to make it and there is way to improve the dish and make it healthier. This is my favorite recipe that can be deemed the healthier version. Oh before we jump in, here is a little history or background lesson.
This next part comes straight from Wikipedia. Do with this information what you will. Shepherd’s pie (made with minced lamb or mutton) or cottage pie (made with minced beef) is a meat pie with a topping of mashed potato. The dish can vary widely within its basic definition, whether as a home recipe or on a restaurant menu. The defining ingredients are minced meat (beef for cottage pie, lamb or mutton for shepherd’s pie) cooked in a gravy with onions and sometimes vegetables, such as peas, celery or carrots, and topped with mashed potato. Whilst not traditional, a common addition to either pie is to top the mashed potato with grated cheese.
Wikipedia goes into so much more detail about the dish but basically it comes from The United Kingdom originally and it’s a meat and potato dish. Now that you know what it is let me tell you how I make it.
- Mince (Depends on your family/portion size. For two people I use 500g. When I feel like spoiling my husband even more I will add some bacon to the mix.)
- Tomatoes (Medium sized tomatoes. Six to nine. Depends on how I feel.)
- Peppers (If I feel like there isn’t enough vegetables in the meal I will add one pepper. For me it doesn’t really matter what colour it is. I do tend to go for the orange, yellow and red mix.)
- Carrots (I always buy the medium sized carrots so I use 5 of them but if you buy the normal large carrots it’s about two.)
- Onion (I use one but only because I’m not that big on onion. This can go according to your taste.)
- Garlic (I use one glove but again this can go according to your taste. Garlic can easily overwhelm a dish so keep that in mind.)
- Bolognese Sauce (I don’t think the brand really matters. I just buy the gluten free one our supermarket has to offer. The bottle is 400g.)
- Soya Cream (I always get the 250g cuisine soya cream the supermarket stocks but normal whipped cream should be ay okay. I just tend to stay away from heavy lactose products as my body sometimes struggle to digest it. Coconut cream will also get the job done.)
- Seasoning (I use Rosemary herbs, salt and pepper. If I feel like a little sting I will add some cayenne pepper.)
- For sweetness I add 1 generous tablespoon of apricot jam. (I use a 30% less sugar brand. I also heat up some water and dissolve the jam in it before I pour it into my sauce. Otherwise it can get clumpy and won’t spread through the entire meal.)
- Extras: If I feel I need more vegetables I will add some spinach but I tend to stay away from that one. In my mind spinach doesn’t go with this meal. The green ruins the nice and pretty red sauce. Taste wise I don’t think it’s noticeable. I also sometimes add 3ml of vanilla essence for flavour and a squeeze of lemon juice.)
- Potatoes (Good old normal potatoes. I always get medium sized potatoes. I go fifty-fifty with the normal and sweet potatoes but you can do this according to your preference. Sometimes I skip the sweet potatoes all together. Portion wise I guess is just make enough. It’s better to have too much then too little but if I have to give it a number it’s about 4-5 normal potatoes (only if there is a few small ones in between the mix. Really I go according what looks enough) and 3 sweet potatoes.
- Sweet Potatoes (I always have the option between the orange skinned and the purple skinned sweet potatoes from my local supermarket. The orange skinned potatoes is orange when cut open and the purple skinned potatoes is a yellow normal potato colour. I don’t know if that even makes sense but all in all I haven’t noticed a difference in flavour although saying that if I have the choice I go for the purple skinned.)
- Butter and (Soya) Milk (You’re going to need butter and milk to mash the potatoes. I use soya milk because well I’m sensitive to lactose products but I don’t think it makes much of a difference. I use 25g-50g of butter (depends on how I feel like that night) and the rest just milk. It’s better to add little by little as too much makes your mashed potatoes runny.)
- Oven pan
Step by step
- I always start off with preparing all of my vegetables for my sauce. I cut up the onion, tomatoes, garlic, peppers, carrot and then add it to my favourite large sauce pan. I then switch over to skinning to potatoes and cutting them up in small pieces (I want them to boil through quickly).
- I place the potatoes on a medium heat and with some olive oil I just let it sit and boil.
- I then switch over to my sauce. I add the mince and the entire sauce mixture like I explained earlier. The Bolognese sauce, soya cream and seasoning. I give it a quick mix (Over mixing it with raw mince breaks it up to a point of you feel like you’re eating baby food. I still want chunks of meat.) I then put a lid on it and let it boil for 20-30 minutes on a low heat. I will give it a stir about halfway through but otherwise I leave it alone.
- The potatoes should be done in 20-25 minutes. I then mash it and please don’t forget to add your seasoning. I always just use salt and pepper. Nothing fancy. All the flavour you want is in the sauce. I saw somewhere someone using the water that they boiled the potatoes with for the mashing. I haven’t tried it yet but be my guess.
- I now take my oven pan and I will up half of it with my mince sauce (If there is left great you have leftover for spaghetti tomorrow night. You can also freeze it for another night.) I carefully put the mashed potatoes above this. One big serving spoon in three different parts of the oven pan. The side and the middle. Ones I feel like the mince mixture and the potatoes mixture is even I will even the potatoes out with a fork.
- For one last extra flavour I add a layer of grated cheese. You can also add a layer of crushed chips (original flavour) on top of the mashed potatoes and then add the grated cheese. It gives it a nice extra layer of crunch. It’s not the healthiest but it is oh so good.
- Then you just pop it in the oven for 30 minutes (or till cheese is nice and crispy) at 180˚C or 356˚F for my Americans. (Sorry for all the grams. Google it?)
Annnddd that’s it folks! Here is a photo of my batch. If you make it and like it please let me know. I would love to see your response to it. If you don’t like it well hey we all like different things. Oh and sorry for the dark quality in the picture. It’s winter here and it’s pretty dark around dinner time. It also doesn’t help that half of our light bulbs aren’t working…
Here is my husband’s review. I promise he is not lying for me at all (he is).
“Thinking back of this dinner on a Sunday morning makes me hungry, it’s one of my favourite meals! If you have not tried this you are definitely missing out. I especially like the variation with the chips on top, so the unhealthy one basically.”
Before I go the unhealthy version is basically no vegetables and using a lot of butter with your normal potatoes.
I wish you all the best and I will see you in a click!