Pic of Beef and lentil cottage pie

Beef and lentil cottage pie

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Meat mains

Beef and lentil cottage pie

Main Serves 4 1h 25 min
A classic beef cottage pie, with the twist of using lentils as a frugal way to bulk up the meat and get more portions out of a smaller amount of meat. The pie can be frozen whole or in individual servings, once the topping is on but before the final bake. Serve with a pile of greens, whichever are in season. Try other toppings instead of potatoes; mixed mashed roots, sweet potato or cooked and mashed cauliflower. Pork mince can be used instead of beef, aka a Swineherd's pie.

Cook's notes

Ideally, leave the mince and lentil mixture to cool before topping it with the mash, this will help prevent the mixture bubbling up over the topping.


  • oil for frying e.g. sunflower or light olive
  • 400g beef mince
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 celery stick, finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped or crushed
  • a small glass (125ml) of red wine (or use more stock)
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 300ml beef or chicken stock, plus a little extra if needed (or use water)
  • leaves from 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 100g dark speckled (puy style) lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1kg potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2-3cm dice
  • a good knob or two of butter
  • a splash of milk
  • small piece of cheddar, grated (optional)
  • salt and pepper


Prep time: 15 min
Cooking time: 1h 10 min
  • Step 1

    Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy-based pan and fry the mince to brown it all over. Transfer the meat to a bowl.
  • Step 2

    Add a splash more oil, the onion, carrot and celery to the pan. Fry gently for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for 2 minutes.
  • Step 3

    Return the mince to the pan. Add the wine, tomato purée, Worcestershire sauce and stir. Cook for 2 minutes.
  • Step 4

    Add the stock, thyme, bay leaf and lentils. Bring up to a low boil and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the lentils are just tender and the sauce has reduced. You may need a little more stock or water towards the end. You want a sloppy, but not too wet a consistency.
  • Step 5

    While the lentils cook, boil the potatoes (or root veg) in a pan of well-salted water until soft (12-15 minutes), then drain, leave in the colander for 2 minutes for excess water to evaporate, then mash with butter and a splash of milk, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Step 6

    Remove the bay leaf from the lentils once cooked and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the mixture to a baking dish. Spread over the mash to evenly cover the mince, spiking it up with a fork (this helps it crisp up).
  • Step 7

    Sprinkle with the cheese if using. Bake at 200°C until the topping is golden (20-25 minutes).

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