It’s been a hectic month, thanks to the hothouse of germs known as school and that other seasonal treat, winter. The children coped well, with their hardy constitutions and squirrel-like optimism, but I, stricken by the same bugs, needed to be propped up with advil, honeyed teas and a good wrapping of goosefeathers before I could face the Canadian outdoors 😉

Here’s a twist on Cottage Pie, comforting and morish on a frigid day. It makes for tasty leftovers too. Substitute minced lamb instead of beef for a Shepherd’s Pie 😀

Cottage Pie

  • Extra-lean minced beef, 1.2 kg (or two regular-sized packets)
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into small cubes
  • 2 medium carrots, cubed
  • 1 courgette, cut into attractive quarters
  • 3/4 tbsp cummin, ground
  • 3/4 tbsp mixed curry powder
  • handful of parsley or corriander, chopped
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 small can condensed mushroom soup, low-fat

  • Substitution possibilities: instead of cummin and curry powder, try a quarter teaspoon of nutmeg and add more chopped herbs for aroma. You could boost the veggie factor with florets of broccoli too. The soup may be omitted.

    Preparing the meat:

  1. Saute the onions till soft, add celery, garlic, cook till fragrant and soft.
  2. Add carrots and cook for a few minutes, add cummin and curry powder, mix them well into the veg and allow the aroma to come through.
  3. Add the meat, mix well, add tomato paste, stir.
  4. Add soup and a can of water and the zucchini.
  5. Adjust seasoning (add pepper, salt to taste, even chilli flakes for extra zing).
  6. Cook till meat is done – possibly 20-30 minutes.

For the mash topping:

  • 3 large floury potatoes, cooked and mashed
  • milk, as needed
  • butter, as needed
  • optional additions: touch of cream, salt and pepper

  1. For the potato topping, mash the cooked potato with some butter and milk. For 3 potatoes, I add about 2 tbsp butter and quite a bit of 1% milk with a dash of salt, which works well.
  2. Prepare the topping: grate a mix of cheeses. I use parmesan and cheddar, enough to sprinkle a layer over the top of the mashed potato.
  3. Assemble your pie. Place the minced beef layer in a casserole dish, line it with foil to save some cleanup time. Add the mashed potato on top, you could smooth it or place it spoon by spoon, leaving the potato in peaks on top of the meat. Sprinkle the cheese on top.
  4. At this stage, the pie can be covered in foil and kept in the fridge till you need it later in the day or the next day.
  5. Bake in 180C oven for 25 mins if the meat was recently prepared and still hot. Bake possibly 50-60 mins if pre-prepared and refrigerated.

Mmmmm… enjoy!