Tag Archives: Mince Recipes

Cottage Pie

Another page in the calendar has flipped over and the clocks have hopped back an hour, so it’s definitely time to dust off the casserole dish and make a hearty cottage pie. If you don’t know what a cottage pie is, it’s basically a shepherd’s pie, but made with beef mince instead of lamb – because for some reason or another, lamb and I just don’t get on. ┬áThe beef version is every bit as tasty, in my opinion, and it’s a little bit cheaper to make.

I’m sure most people have an old family recipe for cottage pie, or at least their own way of doing it, but I made one recently and thought I might as well throw my recipe into the ring.

Cottage Pie

Cottage Pie


  • 1 large packet beef mince
  • 2 onions
  • 6 carrots
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Knorr beef stock pot
  • salt and pepper
  • a pot of good mashing potatoes, such as Maris Pipers
  • knob butter
  • splash milk or cream
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper
  • a few gratings of nutmeg
  • 200g mature cheddar


  1. In a large frying pan on a high heat, brown off the mince in batches, making sure not to overcrowd the pan and risking it boiling. Colour = flavour! Reserve each browned batch in a bowl or plate to the side for the meantime.
  2. Finely chop the onions, grate the garlic and chop the carrots into quarter discs, and cook these off over allow to medium heat in the pan, until the onions have started to turn translucent.
  3. Transfer into a large saucepan or casserole pot and add the tomato puree. Cook that out for a couple of minutes, mixing into the vegetables.
  4. Add the mince back into the pot and add the herbs, cinnamon, Worcestershire sauce and stock pot, plus enough water to just cover the mince. Put a lid on the pot and allow to simmer over a low heat, stirring every now and then. If it's getting too dry, add a little more water, but we're not going to add anything to thicken it later, so don't go too mad.
  5. The amount of mashed potato you will need for the top will depend how big your casserole dish is and how deep you like your potato, so it's easiest to work that out by eye. Just start peeling and quartering your potatoes and stop when you think they'll make enough mash. It's not very scientific I'm afraid but it's how I do it!
  6. Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender when prodded with a knife. Drain the water out then add the butter, cream, salt, pepper, nutmeg and mustard and mash until creamy and lump-free. That can be set aside with the lid on until you're ready to construct the pie.
  7. The mince should be given at least 45 minutes to simmer, but an hour and a half would be better.
  8. When you're ready to construct the pie, preheat the oven to 200c and grab a nice oblong or square oven safe casserole dish. Spread the mince into the bottom then carefully layer the mash on top, smoothing it out gently with a fork.
  9. When it's all nice and smooth, drag a fork through the top in furrows like a ploughed field. This helps to make the pie nice and compacted, but also gives the surface of the mash some texture, which will help it to crisp up in the oven.
  10. Sprinkle the cheese on top and then put back in the oven for at least half an hour, or until the mince is bubbling and the top is turning golden brown.
  11. Serve up with some lovely green vegetables and maybe some Branston pickle!
  12. Enjoy!
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If you liked this British classic, why not try Charles’ Pork and Cider Stew with Sage Dumplings?

Moroccan Flatballs

Sometimes you have mince, but you don’t want burgers and you don’t want bolognaise, but your freezer’s full of chilli. Am I right?  That’s when necessity becomes the mother of invention. I present to you my Moroccan Flatballs. They’re like meatballs, only…well, flat. And they are delightful in a wrap.

You will need:

Good quality lean steak mince – just whichever quantity is most economical to buy 

2 tsp rose harissa

6 dried apricots

1 clove garlic

1 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp tomato ketchup

1/2 tsp dried or 1 tsp fresh parsley

Cracked black pepper 

1 brown onion

Serving suggestion:

1 wheat and white or wholemeal wrap

Shredded lettuce

A few ribbons of carrot

Sliced avocado

A dollop of seasoned yoghurt or hummus 

1. First thing’s first! Slice up the onion. Heat a small saucepan over a medium heat, with a tablespoon of olive oil. When hot, chuck in the onions and allow them to cook down and caramelise. Don’t put a lid on – that’ll halt the browning process. Towards the end, add a small glug of balsamic vinegar, helping the sweetness and browning along.

Remove from the heat and set aside. 

2. While the onions are cooking out, make the Flatballs. Your mince should be placed at room temperature or the finished balls should be left at room temperature for about 20 minutes or so before cooking. Put the mince in a nice big bowl and break it up a little. I like to use a Pyrex bowl so you can see all sides of the mince and make sure everything’s really well-mixed. 

3. Add all the flavourings at this stage, including grating in the garlic. Don’t add any salt at this stage. 

4. Wash your hands well then mix it all together – don’t be afraid of the mince! It’ll need to be kneaded together to make sure the flavouring gets evenly distributed. Then, chop in the apricots and mix once more. 

5. Get a plate ready! Tear off little pieces and roll into balls the size of golf balls. Flatten them between your hands and place on the plate. You can of course leave them as balls or make larger burgers, but I quite liked that these were a little but different. 

6. Preheat the oven to 180c. Put a large frying pan on the hob and set to a high heat. Once the pan’s nice and hot, you can start to dry off your Flatballs, putting no more than 4 in the pan at a time to avoid bringing the temperature down. Fry until brown then flip over and repeat. 
7. Place the browned Flatballs on a baking tray lined with tin foil and put in the oven for around 10 minutes, until the balls are sizzle and cooked through. To reheat the onions, chuck them into the frying pan and they’ll take on some of those meaty juices. 
8. Season and serve how you will. But look how good they look in a wrap!