Cottage pie is pretty great, if you ask me. It’s toasty, savoury, and totally melt-in-your-mouth tasty. Even though it can be enjoyed any time of year, feasting on it during the cold weather is the perfect time.
Cottage pie or shepherd's pie is a type of savory pie. It is made with minced meat, with mashed potato on top. It comes from the United Kingdom and Ireland. The dish is now popular worldwide.
The name "cottage pie" was first used at the end of the 18th century. It was around that time that the poorer people of Britain, people who lived in cottages in the country, started using potatoes as an everyday food. Originally, a pie made with any kind of meat and mashed potato was called a "cottage pie".
In modern British English, the dish is usually called "cottage pie" if it is made with beef. If it is made with lamb it is usually called "shepherd's pie" (because a shepherd looks after sheep).
According to the Oxford Companion to Food, once upon a time, Scotland made its shepherd’s pies with pastry instead of mashed potatoes.
The United Kingdom, made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, is an island nation in northwestern Europe. England – birthplace of Shakespeare and The Beatles – is home to the capital, London, a globally influential centre of finance and culture. England is also site of Neolithic Stonehenge, Bath’s Roman spa and centuries-old universities at Oxford and Cambridge.
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Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan and fry beef mince until browned – you may need to do this in batches. Set aside as it browns.
Put the olive oil into the pan, add finely chopped onions, chopped carrots and chopped celery sticks and cook on a gentle heat until soft, about 20 mins.
Add finely chopped garlic cloves, plain flour and tomato purée, increase the heat and cook for a few mins, then return the beef to the pan. Add the Panchetta
Pour over a large glass of red wine, if using, and boil to reduce it slightly before adding the beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, a few thyme sprigs and bay leaves.
Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 45 mins. By this time the gravy should be thick and coating the meat. Check after about 30 mins – if a lot of liquid remains, increase the heat slightly to reduce the gravy a little. Season well, then discard the bay leaves and thyme stalks.
Meanwhile, make the mash. In a large saucepan, cover the potatoes which you've peeled and chopped, in salted cold water, bring to the boil and simmer until tender.
Drain well, then allow to steam-dry for a few mins. Mash well with the milk, butter, and three-quarters of the strong cheddar cheese, then season with freshly grated nutmeg and some salt and pepper. Stir in the lemon zest.
Spoon the meat into 2 ovenproof dishes. Pipe or spoon on the mash to cover. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese.
If eating straight away, heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7 and cook for 25-30 mins, or until the topping is golden.