The British, known for our fantastic music culture but when it comes to cooking we’re not always the go to cuisine. Despite this, there really are some great dishes. They may not have the fancy names but they’re full of heart and taste great. This inspired me to make my very own cottage pie with a twist. Cottage pie is made with beef and Shepard’s pie is made using lamb. It’s proper comfort food. If the weather is cold or dark and gloomy you can always rely on a dish like this to lift your spirit.
Something to really give it that extra flavour in this recipe is the Smokey pancetta. You can also use smoked streaky bacon and it will work just the same; you’ll find adding the pancetta helps season the dish without the need to add extra salt. Pepper of course can be added and plenty too. The next twist is the mustard. For me it has to be Dijon mustard as it’s not too overpowering, yet has enough character to evolve the dish into something special.
I have always loved grated carrot in both a shepherds and cottage pie, so that’s a must. Simply peel the skin then use a block grater. A big tip is to leave the end of the carrot on so that you have something to hold onto and you can avoid grating your hand.
Peel your potatoes and slice a millimetre thick. Don’t worry about getting them spot on. This is a rustic dish and who cares if they are different shapes and sizes? You can use the traditional method which requires mash potato, but I’m trying to be a tad healthier and use less potatoes in this recipe. You only need 2-3 medium potatoes and it creates a lovely crust. Less carbs and no need for extra milk or cream (still need the cheese though)! I add a layer of sliced potato, a little grated cheese. Then a second next layer and top that off with some more cheese. You really don’t need much, just a little to melt whilst baking and it will go a long way.
Place in the oven until golden brown, then it’s ready to serve. When you divide it up and add each serving to a plate, you will notice lovely rich, silky gravy at the bottom. You can just add that on top or save it for bread and butter later! It goes really well with some freshly steamed green beans too.
- 500g lean mince
- 500ml chicken or beef stock
- 3rd cup/80ml of tomato puree
- 6 rashes of smoked streaky bacon or pancetta
- 2 large carrots
- 1 whole onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- 2-3 large potatoes (depends on the size of your dish)
- 100g Grated cheddar (just enough to cover)
- 2-3 heaped teaspoons of Dijon mustard to taste
- Dice an onion and peel and grate your carrots ready to be cooked.
- Brown off the beef in the pan separating it into a fine mince. Then set aside in a bowl.
- Heat in the same pan a tablespoon of olive oil, add the onion and carrots then brown off for a couple of minutes on a medium heat, then add the mince back to the pan followed by a crushed clove of garlic.
- Add the beef/chicken stock, tomato pure and Dijon mustard then bring to a boil.
- Turn the heat down and simmer for 15 minutes with the lid on. Meanwhile preheat the oven to gas mark 6/200°C/400°F. Slice your potatoes about a millimetre thick and part boil for 5 minutes then cool under cold water.
- Add the cooked mince to a dish and then cover with a layer of potatoes. Add some grated cheese, followed by another layer of potatoes. Finally another layer of grated cheese then drizzle some olive oil and a little black pepper.
- Put in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.