For some reason there always seems to be a lot of confusion between Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie – they are both very similar but the one big difference is Shepherd’s Pie is made using lamb and Cottage pie, beef. So if you aren't a fan of lamb you can certainly make this with minced beef instead, just make sure to call it a Cottage Pie! Regardless of which version you make one thing for sure is that this is absolutely delicious comfort food at it's best.
I like to serve this with a simple spinach and pea salad – perfect!
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
500g minced (ground) lamb (the best quality you can get)
1 tbsp flour
250ml passata or crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
250ml beef stock
leaves from a few sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
Salt & Pepper
1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
90-105ml (6-8 tbsp) milk
1 tbsp parsley (optional)
Salt & pepper
Heat the oil in a large pan then sauté the onion over a medium heat for 5 minutes until it has started to soften but not coloured. Add the celery, carrot and garlic and continue to cook for another 5 minutes before adding the mince, breaking it up as it cooks. Cook over a medium-high heat until all of the mince has browned then sprinkle over the flour. Cook for at least a minute then add the passata, tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, beef stock, thyme and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper, stir well then leave to simmer for 35- 45 minutes, stirring from time to time to make sure it doesn't catch on the bottom, until the sauce has reduced and thickened – don’t be tempted to have it too runny as it will make the potatoes soggy.
While the sauce is cooking boil the potatoes in salted water until tender and then drain and mash them with the milk, butter, salt and pepper until smooth and creamy. If using add the parsley to the mashed potatoes.
While the potatoes are cooking pre-heat the oven to 400F/ 200C.
When the meat sauce is ready, remove the bay leaves then add the parsley. Check the seasoning then transfer to an oven-proof casserole dish. Top with the mashed potato then cook in the oven for roughly 30 minutes until the potato is golden and starting to crisp slightly and the sauce is bubbling at the side.
Leave to cool for a couple of minutes before serving with the spinach and pea salad.
(Sorry - the pics aren't the best, but it was dark and we were all hungry!!!)