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Ultimate Cottage Pie with Cheesy Mash and Bacon Sprinkles

METHOD

  • Preheat the Oven:
    • Preheat your oven to 200°C.
  • Brown the Beef and Vegetables:
    • Spread the minced beef in a roasting tin and roast in the preheated oven for around 20 minutes, keep separating the mince and let it brown.
    • Add the chopped onions, carrots, celery, and garlic to the tin with the beef.
    • Return to the oven and roast for another 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are softened and everything is browned.
  • Prepare the Meat Filling:
    • Transfer the roasted beef and vegetables to a large pan.
    • Stir in the tomato purée, Worcestershire sauce, crumbled beef stock cube, herbs, and red wine (if using).
    • Simmer the mixture for about 20 minutes to reduce the liquid. Season with salt and pepper.

Method for Creamy Mash

  • Boil Potatoes: Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender.
  • Mash: Drain the potatoes well and return them to the pot. Mash them with the butter until smooth.
  • Add Dairy: Gradually mix in the milk and cream, continuing to mash until the potatoes are creamy and smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cheese: While the mash is still warm, stir in the grated cheeses (and egg yolk if using) until the cheese is melted and integrated.
  • Prepare the Bacon Bits:
    • Cook the streaky bacon in the oven or a frying pan until crispy.
    • Once cooled, crumble or chop the bacon into small bits.
  • Assemble the Pie:
    • Spoon the meat mixture into a baking dish.
    • Top with the cheddar mash, spreading evenly.
    • Sprinkle with extra cheese (if using) and the crispy bacon bits.
  • Bake the Pie:
    • Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until the top is golden and crispy.
  • Serve:
    • Let the cottage pie rest for a few minutes before serving.

A note on Mash

In Britain, certain varieties of potatoes are favoured for making mash due to their texture and flavour. The best potatoes for mash are those that are floury and starchy, as they break down well and absorb butter and milk beautifully, creating a creamy and smooth mash. Here are some of the top British potato varieties for making mash:

  1. Maris Piper:
    • Perhaps the most famous and widely used potato for mashing in the UK. It has a fluffy texture when cooked, making it perfect for a creamy mash.
  2. King Edward:
    • A classic choice for mash due to its light, floury texture. King Edwards are particularly good at absorbing butter and cream.
  3. Desiree:
    • These red-skinned potatoes are slightly more waxy than Maris Piper or King Edward, but they still make a good, creamy mash. They are a bit less fluffy but have a rich, sweet flavour.
  4. Rooster:
    • Roosters have a buttery flavour and a floury texture, making them another good option for mash. They can also hold their shape well, which is great if you prefer a slightly chunkier mash.
  5. Kerr’s Pink:
    • These are slightly less common but make excellent mash due to their dry, floury texture.

When making mash, it's also important to consider the cooking method. Start with cold, salted water, and bring it to a boil with the potatoes in it. This ensures even cooking. Also, be careful not to overwork the potatoes when mashing to avoid a gluey texture. Adding butter, milk, or cream while they're still hot will help achieve a smooth, rich, and creamy mash.

Side Dishes

Steamed Green Vegetables:

Broccoli, green beans, or sugar snap peas, simply steamed, add a fresh, slightly crunchy contrast to the rich pie.

Garden Salad:

A light, crisp salad with a vinaigrette dressing can cut through the richness of the pie. Include fresh greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and perhaps some red onion for a bit of sharpness.

Roasted Root Vegetables:

Carrots, parsnips, and beets, roasted with a touch of honey and herbs, can complement the earthy flavours of the pie.

Cauliflower Cheese:

If you're looking for a decadent addition, cauliflower cheese pairs wonderfully with cottage pie, adding a creamy texture and cheesy flavour.

Buttered Peas and Carrots:

A simple side of peas and carrots, lightly buttered and seasoned, adds colour and sweetness to the plate.

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Preparation Time: Approximately 45 minutes.
Cooking Time: Approximately 65 minutes.
INGREDIENTS

For the Filling:

  • 500g minced beef
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery sticks, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 beef stock cube, crumbled
  • 150ml red wine (optional)
  • Fresh thyme and rosemary, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For the Cheesy Mash:

  • 1kg potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 50g butter
  • 50ml milk
  • 50ml cream (double or heavy cream for richness)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 egg yolk (optional, for added richness)
  • 50g each St Andrews Cheddar, Ogleshield, Sparkenhoe Vintage Red Leicester grated
  • Extra cheese for topping (optional)

For the Bacon Sprinkles:

  • 4-6 slices Old Fashioned Streaky Bacon
SHop For

  • Rare Breed Beef Minced

    Native Breed Beef Mince – 500g

    £6.25
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  • Buy streaky bacon online

    Old Fashioned Streaky Bacon – 500g

    £9.50
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  • Ogleshield – 350g

    £7.50
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Hot Tips

Quality Ingredients: Use good quality beef and fresh vegetables. The quality of your ingredients will significantly impact the flavour of your dish.

Browning the Meat: Ensure the beef is well-browned in the oven. This process develops rich, deep flavours that form the base of your dish.

Vegetable Texture: Avoid overcooking the vegetables when roasting. They should be tender but not mushy, as they will cook further when the pie is baked.

Seasoning: Taste and season your filling adequately. The right balance of salt, pepper, and herbs is crucial for flavour.

Cheese in Mash: Mix the cheese into the mash while it's still warm to ensure it melts evenly.

Crispy Bacon Bits: Cook the bacon until it's really crispy. It will add a delightful texture contrast to the creamy mash.

Assembling: Ensure the meat filling is slightly cooled before topping with the mash to prevent the layers from mixing.

Ridges on Mash: Create ridges on the mash with a fork; this helps to get a nice crispy top when baked.

Pairings

Red Wine:

A medium-bodied red wine like a Merlot or a Shiraz pairs well with the meaty richness of the cottage pie. These wines have enough body to complement the dish without overpowering it.

Ale or Stout:

A dark ale or stout offers a robust flavour that can stand up to the hearty flavours of the pie.

Cider:

A dry apple cider provides a crisp and refreshing contrast to the richness of the dish.

Non-Alcoholic Options:

Sparkling water with a slice of lemon or lime, or a rich, fruity drink like blackcurrant cordial can be a pleasant non-alcoholic alternative.