Cottage pie is an extremely traditional dish that has been around for hundreds of years.
Instead of a pastry topping to cover a meat filling, potato was used because of it’s low cost.
Thankfully even with today’s economy, potato is still a slightly cheaper alternative, though only just!
Though this was once used as a cheap alternative for modest living cottage folk, it is definitely a meal worth going out of your way to make again and again. For me the crispy, creamy, aerated deliciousness that is potato beats a pastry crust hands down any day of the week and twice on Sundays.
If you have heard of the Shepard’s Pie you may have noticed the similarities between it and Cottage Pie and be wondering what the difference is.
The only real difference to the dishes in recent times, since seasoning’s and additions vary from household to household is that the Cottage Pie, which came first, uses minced beef whereas the Shepard’s Pie uses minced Lamb.
When the recipe was originally made, any leftover roasted meats were used which sounds amazing so I will have to try it and get back to you!
This recipe is by Gordon Ramsay though reworded and expanded upon if needed, I am a big fan of his I have to say.
His Cottage/Shepard’s Pie’s are one of his signature dishes and since everyone I have seen eating one of his seemed to be experiencing some kind of euphoria, I had to see what I was missing!
The real revelation about this Cottage Pie is the mashed potato.
Of course I have already expressed my bias towards the wonderful potato, my potato club membership is still in the post, but never have I eaten potato this good.
It is untraditional in the fact it uses an egg yolk and Parmasan cheese but these make it amazingly creamy and so smooth with little effort, even making it puff up in the oven!
Trust me when I say the potato is worth eating alone, I admit I don’t much like melted cheese which is why I was afraid to try this but it isn’t “too cheesy” for me as I suspected it would be.
This recipe has been scaled down for my family of two so scale up as needed.
Gordon Ramsay’s Guinness Cottage Pie
Serves 2-4 depending on accompaniments
For the Filling
1 tablespoon olive oil
500g lean minced beef
1 large white onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 thyme sprigs, leaves only
1 plum tomato, tinned or fresh, chopped finely
1 tablespoon tomato purée
2 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
150ml chicken stock
Salt & pepper
For the topping
500g mashing potatoes, peeled and roughly cubed
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon finely grated Parmesan or mature Cheddar, plus extra for very top
Salt & pepper
Heat a large frying pan until very hot and add in half of the olive oil.
Season with salt and pepper and fry the mince until browned.
Drain the mince into a colander or sieve and set aside.
Over a medium heat add the other half of olive oil and fry the onion and thyme leaves until the onions are soft and golden.
Return the mince to the pan and add in the chopped plum tomato and the tomato purée, stir constantly for 4 to 5 minutes to cook out the purée.
Add the Guinness and Worcestershire sauce and bring to a boil to reduce by half.
When reduced, pour in the chicken stock and return to the boil.
Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until thick and glossy.
Meanwhile add your potato cubes to a large pot of salted water, bring it to a boil and cook until tender, until a knife or fork will go through without resistance.
When complete, turn the mince mix down to very low and drain the potatoes.
Preheat the oven to 180oc.
Return the potatoes to the pot and place back on the heat for a few seconds, to get rid of any extra moisture.
Take off the heat and mash, passing through a ricer or using a masher.
Mix in the butter, cheese and the egg yolk and season with salt, pepper and extra butter and cheese if desired to your taste.
Spoon the mince mix into an oven-proof dish and spoon the mashed potato on top.
Rough the top of the potato up with a fork to create ridges and peaks that will become crispy.
Grate over some extra cheese and baking in the oven for about 30 minutes, until golden and bubbling.