With the tastiest mince and extra crispy sliced potatoes, this recipe for a deconstructed cottage pie is one that you'll be making time and time again. What's more, you don't need to bake it in the oven so you'll be saving on electricity too!
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Deconstructed cottage pie
I don't know what the energy situation is like in the rest of the world, but here in the UK we are facing the highest electricity bills ever. Everyone is thinking of ways to save cut costs and save energy. I've been making a lot of slow-cooker recipes, such as this delicious slow-cooker beef trinchado, and trying to think of ways to cook supper that don't involve using the oven.
That's one of the reasons why I love this recipe for a deconstructed cottage pie. It's all made on the stovetop and you can have it cooked and on the table in less than an hour.
The mince is packed with tasty vegetables, and you can use up whatever vegetables you happen to have in the refrigerator, making it a healthy and economical meal too.
I often find with a cottage pie that's been baked in the oven, is that the potatoes don't crisp as much as I'd like them to. With this recipe the potatoes are shallow-fried in sunflower oil so you are guaranteed the crispiest potatoes every single time.
What you will need
This recipe will serve 4 people, If you want to feed more people just add extra meat and vegetables.
**For the exact measurements and full instructions for making this deconstructed cottage pie, see the printable recipe card at the end of this post**
- Beef mince - get good quality beef mince with a low-fat content. I normally buy mince with 5% fat - anything higher than that and you run the risk of ending up with greasy cottage pie. If you prefer you can use a mixture of half beef and half pork mince.
- Potatoes - the best potatoes for this dish are firm waxy potatoes such as charlottes, roosters or Maris piper. These potatoes are going to be fried so choose a potato that you would normally use for making chips (french fries). Floury potatoes (the sort you would use for making mashed potatoes) will not crisp sufficiently.
- Vegetables - this is entirely your choice, and you will need approximately 1 cup of finely chopped mixed vegetables per person. My suggestions are onions, celery, carrots, leeks, peppers (red or yellow), tomatoes and mushrooms. However, you can change this to suit whatever you have available in the refrigerator. Why not try adding sugar snap peas, baby corn, french beans, broad beans, parsnips, marrows or even chopped broccoli or cauliflower?
- Frozen peas - I realise these are classed as vegetables, but I wanted to mention them separately because to my mind, they really add something special and are an essential ingredient. I love the little pops of sweetness they provide.
- Garlic -minced fresh garlic, or use garlic from a jar for convenience.
- Tomato puree - sometimes called tomato paste. This is highly concentrated tomatoes, not to be confused with tomato ketchup.
- Worcestershire sauce - this adds a salty flavour.
- Mango chutney - for a hint of sweetness. You can substitute this with any sweet chutney.
- Stock - one beef stock cube dissolved in a cup of boiling water will be fine if you don't have fresh beef stock to hand.
- Salt and black pepper - for seasoning. You may find that the Worcestershire sauce and the stock add sufficient seasoning. Taste before adding salt.
- Sunflower oil - for frying the potatoes.
Top tip - when cutting the vegetables cut them into very small pieces - less than half an inch. The mince is finely ground so you don't want chunky vegetables mixed into it.
The potatoes should be cut into slices, between one-eighth to one-quarter of an inch in thickness. You can use a sharp knife for this, or you can use a mandolin if you have one. Leave the potatoes in a bowl of water once you have sliced them to prevent them from discolouring. Drain and pat them dry with paper towels before frying them.
What to do
In a nutshell, these are the steps for making a deconstructed cottage pie:
- prepare the vegetables and slice the potatoes
- fry the vegetables that take the most time to cook
- add the meat and brown
- add the remaining vegetables and stock
- simmer until done
- make the crispy potatoes while the meat is simmering
Heat the sunflower oil in a large saute pan and add the chopped onions, peppers, leeks, carrots, celery and garlic.
Fry on a gentle heat for about 5 minutes until the vegetables start to soften. Don't allow them to brown.
To speed things up you can cover the pan with a lid.
Push the vegetables to one side and add the minced beef.
Continue to fry until the meat has browned and is nicely separated.
Break up any large clumps of mince with a spatula.
Once the meat has browned, add the tomatoes and mushrooms and continue to fry until the tomatoes and mushrooms release their moisture (about 3 minutes).
Add the stock, along with the Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and mango chutney.
Cover the pan with a lid and simmer for about 40 minutes until the vegetables are cooked and the stock has thickened and reduced.
There should not be too much stock in the pan, and it should be reduced to the extent that it leaves a trail when you draw a spoon through it.
If the stock has not reduced, remove the lid for the last few minutes of cooking time to allow it to evaporate.
Stir in the peas and allow to heat through.
Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary.
To make the potatoes, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan and arrange the sliced potatoes in a single layer. I like to season them with a little salt at this stage, but this is optional.
Fry over high heat, turning with a spatula, until the potatoes are browned and crispy on both sides.
You may have to do this in batches so that they brown evenly.
To serve, arrange the fried potatoes into a ring on a serving plate and pile the mince and vegetables into the middle.
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Shepherd's pie is made with lamb (shepherds look after sheep) and is normally covered with mashed potatoes.
Cottage pie is made with beef and is normally covered with sliced potatoes. The potatoes are said to resemble the tiles on a cottage roof.
There is absolutely nothing to stop you from making this dish with mashed potatoes if you prefer.
The mince and vegetable mixture freezes well. I normally make a double batch and freeze half for another meal (another good way of saving electricity). I don't freeze the potatoes as I like to make them fresh so that they are nice and crispy.
To freeze the mince, allow it to cool and then transfer to a Tupperware container and freeze for up to 4 months.
To use, allow the mince to defrost in the refrigerator and then reheat it in a saucepan on the stove. Make the crispy potatoes while the meat is reheating, then serve immediately.
You can make the meat and vegetable mixture up to three days in advance and store it in a covered container in the refrigerator.
I would be inclined to make the potatoes fresh when I was ready to make the dish.
Save for later
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If you like this recipe you may want to try some of my other easy suppers:
- Spicy ground beef curry and rice
- Creamy meatball stroganoff with mushrooms
- Meatball wellingtons with marinara sauce
- Macaroni and cheese lasagne
- Meatball stuffed pasta shells with spicy tomato sauce
- Swedish meatballs with creamy mustard sauce
Deconstructed cottage pie
(Click the stars to rate this recipe)
- 1 pound / 450 grams lean beef mince 5% fat content
- 2 pounds / 900 grams firm waxy potatoes peeled and sliced ⅛ to ¼ inch thickness
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 1 stick celery diced
- 1 medium carrot diced
- 1 red or yellow pepper (capsicum) deseeded and diced
- 1 small leek finely sliced
- 2 medium tomatoes diced
- 2 ounces / 60 grams mushrooms diced
- ¾ cup frozen peas
- 1 cup beef stock use a stock cube
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato puree
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons mango chutney
- salt and pepper to taste optional
- 2 to 4 sunflower oil for frying
- Peel and slice the potatoes and place them in a bowl of cold water until you are ready to fry them.2 pounds / 900 grams firm waxy potatoes
- Clean and dice the vegetables. Mince the garlic.1 large onion, 1 stick celery, 1 medium carrot, 1 red or yellow pepper (capsicum), 1 small leek, 2 medium tomatoes, 2 ounces / 60 grams mushrooms, 2 cloves garlic
Make the savoury mince
- Heat 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil in a large saute pan and fry the onions, garlic, celery, leeks, peppers and carrots on medium heat until they start to soften. Don't allow them to brown. To speed things up you can cover the pan with a lid.
- Push the vegetables to one side and add the minced beef. Continue to fry until the meat has browned and is nicely separated. Break up any large clumps of mince with a spatula.1 pound / 450 grams lean beef mince
- Once the meat has browned, add the tomatoes and mushrooms and continue to fry until the tomatoes and mushrooms release their moisture (about 3 minutes).
- Add the stock, along with the Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and mango chutney.Cover the pan with a lid and simmer for about 40 minutes until the vegetables are cooked and the stock has thickened and reduced.If the mixture seems too watery, remove the lid for the last 10 minutes.1 cup beef stock, 2 tablespoons tomato puree, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons mango chutney
- Stir in the peas and allow them to heat through.¾ cup frozen peas
- Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary.salt and pepper to taste
- Heat 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil in a large frying pan2 to 4 sunflower oil
- Pat the potatoes with a piece of paper towel to dry them and arrange them in a single layer in the frying pan. Season with salt (optional).
- Fry over a high heat, turning with a spatula, until the potatoes are browned and crispy on both sides. You may have to do this in batches so that they brown evenly.
- To serve, arrange the fried potatoes into a ring on a serving plate and pile the mince and vegetables into the middle.
To use, allow the mince to defrost in the refrigerator and then reheat it in a saucepan on the stove. Don't freeze the fried potatoes - they will lose their crispiness when defrosted. Rather cook these fresh. Top tip - when cutting the vegetables cut them into very small pieces - less than half an inch. The mince is finely ground so you don't want chunky vegetables mixed into it.
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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