A Taste of Autumn: Cottage Pie | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

A Taste of Autumn: Cottage Pie

Food and Drink writer Toby Fenton is keeping you cozy this month with a great homely recipe

Cottage Pie (Serves 4-6)

This simple, autumnal meal really hits the spot in the cold, dark evenings at this time of year! The addition of wholegrain mustard to the mash gives the dish a nice kick


For the cottage pie filling:

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Small knob of butter

2 small onions, diced

3 large carrots, diced

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

500g beef mince

2 tbsp tomato puree

650ml beef stock (you could replace 150ml of the stock with red wine)

A dash of Worcestershire sauce

Salt & pepper

For the mash:

4 large potatoes

50g butter

Splash of milk

1 tbsp wholegrain mustard (optional)

Salt & pepper

Alternative version:

Use sweet potato instead of potato. This is a more interesting twist on the traditional cottage pie!


  1. Preheat the oven to 200oC/Gas 6. Heat a large pan/casserole dish over a medium heat and add the oil and knob of butter. Then when up to temperature, add the diced onion and carrot and fry until softened (this should take 5-7 minutes)
  2. When the onions and carrots are softened, add the chopped garlic, and fry the garlic for a few minutes.
  3. Then turn the heat up to medium-high, and add the beef mince, frying for a few more minutes until the meat is browned.
  4. Meanwhile, peel and dice the potatoes and add to a pan filled with boiling salted water over a high heat, until cooked (should take 8-10 minutes, depending on how big you’ve chopped the potatoes)
  5. When the meat has browned, add the tomato puree and cook for 5 minutes to cook it out (note: tomato puree needs to be cooked out properly, otherwise it leaves an unpleasant flavour to the dish)
  6. When the tomato puree has been cooked out, raise the heat to high, add the beef stock (and the red wine if using), and bring to the boil, then leave on high heat for 5-8 minutes to reduce the liquid/cook out the wine.
  7. When the liquid has reduced, the mixture shouldn’t be too wet. Add the Worcestershire sauce and season with salt and pepper, and pour into a deep, ceramic baking dish, and allow to cool a little.
  8. By now, your potatoes should be cooked. Mash the potatoes with the butter, and when mashed, add a splash of milk, the wholegrain mustard (if using) and season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
  9. Add the mash on top of the filling and carefully spread the mash over the filling until flat and the meat is completely covered. Then using the back of a fork, create lines across the surface of the mash (see photo)
  10. Then put the cottage pie in the oven, and cook for 30 minutes, or until the surface of the mash is browned. Then remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Serve with seasonal vegetables (peas would be an easy accompaniment to this dish).

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29th October 2018 at 7:00 am

Images from


Toby Fenton