Slow cooked cottage pie is truly tasty and well worth the effort. The minced beef is meltingly delicious and the flavours are rich and concentrated.
500g / 1lb 2oz minced beef
2 medium carrots (approx 140g)
Mug full of peas (defrosted)
2 medium onions
1 sweet red pepper (optional)
2 garlic cloves
1 level tablespoon of tomato concentrate
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried sage
Good handful of fresh parsley
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon of flour (plain or self raising)
Four shakes of Worcestershire Sauce
120ml / 4fl oz / ½ cup of beef stock (two stock cubes)
Salt and pepper to taste
MASHED POTAO TOPPING
900g / 2lbs of potatoes (e.g. Maris Piper or King Edwards)
60g / 2oz of butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Peel the onions and garlic, top and tail then finely chop.
Trim up the carrot, slice in half lengthwise then slice into 1cm / ½cm pieces.
Peel the potatoes, cut into three or four (depending on size) and place in a pan of water ready for boiling.
A few hints and tips for cooking the best Slow Cooker Cottage Pie. The stock should be very hot to help the slow cooker heat up quickly. The amount of stock seems small but, with the other ingredients, it will be enough in your slow cooker. See the first picture in the recipe instructions below which looks rather dry but then look at the second picture and see that the pie filling has become moist.
We mention specific vegetables in the recipe below but don't feel bound to stick to those vegetables. Chopped celery, swede or celeriac add different flavours and can be used to bulk out the pie in place of some of the meat. The same goes for the herbs added, they all combine to give extra flavour so add the ones you prefer with beef.
Our recipe recommends letting the boiled potatoes stand for a few minutes before mashing them. The reason is that while the drained potatoes are standing they will give off steam and the water content will be reduced. This makes a lighter potato topping which helps prevent the potatoes sinking into the cottage pie filling.
Cottage Pie freezes very well and you can either microwave it hot or place in the oven for half an hour or so. We have found that defrosting and reheating makes the pie filling slightly drier (not much though) so if you are cooking with the intention of freezing it all then an additional 20ml of water in the slow cooker may well be a good idea.
We cooked this cottage pie in a 2.4 litre CROCK-POT SCCPQK5025W slow cooker which worked well. It will work in any slow cooker up to about 3.5 litres capacity. The recipe scales up or down well but if you are cooking a double batch then the minimum size of slow cooker required would be a 3.5 litre one or larger. Our suggested cooking time of 5 hours can be extended by about two hours without affecting the flavour and texture.
With your slow cooker on the high setting add the carrots, red peppers, onions, garlic, tomato concentrate, Worcestershire sauce, beef stock, salt and pepper.
Stir the ingredients well then sprinkle the flour evenly over the top stirring it in with a fork or spoon. Place the lid back on the slow cookerSTEP 2
Add the minced beef to a largish frying pan on a medium heat and break up the minced beef so that no clumps of meat are left.
Stir and turn the mince constantly for about five minutes. Add the fried minced beef and the juices into the slow cooker giving it a quick mix. Leave the slow cooker on high for a further hour. The mix may look dry (see below) but after a couple of hours in the slow cooker it will be moist (see picture in step 3 below).
Begin slow cooking cottage pie
Now turn the slow cooker to low and cook for three hours. See in the picture below showing that the filling is now moist.
Finally add the defrosted peas, rosemary, thyme, sage, chopped parsley and ground cinnamon, stir in well and cook on the high setting for a final 35 minutes.
Place the peeled potatoes in water on a high heat until they boil (8 minutes of so) and then simmer for 15 more minutes until cooked and ready to mash.STEP 4
Drain the water from the potatoes and let them stand for five minutes. Now add the butter, salt and pepper and mash them well.
Pre heat the grill by turning it to a medium heat. Pour the pie filling into one or more oven proof dishes to about half the depth of the dish.
Gently spread the mashed potato over the top of the pie filling without forcing it down. It's fine to have a rough mashed top because this will look good when the top of the pie is browned.
Put the cottage pie under the preheated grill for about five minutes until the peaks of the mashed potato turn brown. Watch carefully because it is easy to burn the top of the mash.
Top Cottage Pie filling with mashed potato
Serve onto warm plates with vegetables. Cottage pie freezes very well and will keep in the freezer for up to three months. It can be cooked from frozen in the microwave or defrosted and then microwaved.