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Cottage or Shepherd’s Pie?

Same approach, just with different meat:

  • cottage: with minced beef
  • shepherd’s: with minced lamb

Although you can easily buy both at the supermarket and cheaply, you may be surprised to find that your local market probably has both of these at a competitive price which have come from local, responsibly-run farms.  This has the benefit of:

  • keeping money in the local community of farmer-producers and sellers – thus sustaining local employment
  • reducing the transport and therefore the pollution impact
  • giving the stock a better life
  • you knowing that your meat is not being bought ‘under plastic’ and sprayed with all sorts of potentially unhealthy stuff to make it last longer.

So what you will need:

  • enough meat to fill a casserole dish to a centimetre or so depth.  For each person about 100 grammes of meat.  (About 5 Euros for 5 people)
  • plenty of onions: 1 x medium sized onion per person.  A mix of types of onions adds interest (flavour and colour).
  • 2 x large roasting potatoes (firm ones) per person
  • 1  x large carrot per person
  • 1/2 an apple per person – the type doesn’t really matter as long as it is ‘plocky’ (as my Dad would have said)  = crunchy
  • 1 x medium sized tin of peas (or tin of corn off the cob)
  • If you can get it: a large tin of Heinz Baked Beans in tomato sauce …..  if
  • half a cup of milk, a knob of butter, plus some salt and pepper.

Preparation 5/10 mins:

  1. Preheat the over to 175°C
  2. Get out a small pan plus two pots for the hob, plus the casserole dish for the oven.  Fill one pot with water and leave the other empty for the moment.
  3. peel then chop the onions pretty finely (doesn’t matter how fine as long as they are no longer than your little finger or wider than a chopstick.
  4. peel the carrots then chop them as above….
  5. peel the potatoes and cut them into appx 2 cms x 2 cms chunks and put them in the pot of water
  6. Peel the apples, take out the cores and chop as above
  7. open your tins ready (drain water out of the peas and the corn)


  1. Heat the potatoes in the pan of water on the hob – will take about 10 – 15 mins until you can pass a sharp knife through them easily
  2. Add a touch of vegetable oil and black pepper  to the pan and heat and keep turning over your onions until they are browning but not burnt.   Then take out the onions and quickly turn over your meat until it’s slightly red colour has begun to fade.  Don’t overdo it now!  At the same time slowly heat your baked beans in tomato sauce until pre-cooked (5  mins) and also heat the carrots in boiling water to ‘par-boil’ them (5-10 mins).  Drain the carrots.
  3. Get the casserole dish then add in layers:
    1. the carrots on the bottom layer – they need more cooking so the base, as the hottest part is the best place for them.
    2. the peas, corn and the onions
    3. the apples
    4. the meat and all its juice
    5. the baked beans and all the sauce
  4. Make your mash!
    1. Heat up half a cup of milk first (if from the fridge – 45 secs in the microwave will do) and get your knob of butter and black pepper handy
    2. mash the potatoes a bit then add the butter and most of the milk and keep mashing until it’s lovely and creamy.  Add your black pepper and mash a bit more for good measure.
    3. Spread the mash over the casserole ingredients and try not to let it go higher than the sides of the casserole.
  5. Don’t cover it, just put it in the middle of the over for 25 minutes…. you should let it (light) brown off on top.  the juice trickling down from the meat, the apples and the tomato sauce should make sure it doesn’t run dry.
  6. Serve!  (take care not to burn yourself – the mash may cool but the meat will stay pretty hot a good while).  A nice red wine might come in handy about now, don’t you think…. or maybe cider?

So, 20 mins preparation  and 30 mins cooking at most … and if you over-do the portions as we do deliberately then you find that the following day, even with visitors, a few extre bits of veg and it will go round again.  Keeps well in the fridge or will freeze and defrost well.