Beef and lentil cottage pie  recipe image

Print Beef and lentil cottage pie

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.

Ingredients

  • Oil for frying e.g. sunflower or light olive
  • 400g beef mince
  • 1 onion, peeled & finely diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled & 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 & drained
  • 1kg potatoes, peeled & chopped into 2-3cm dice
  • A good knob or two of butter
  • A splash of milk
  • Small piece of cheddar, grated (optional)
  • Salt & pepper

Method

  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.
  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.
  3. Return the mince to the pan. Add the wine, tomato purée, Worcestershire sauce and stir. Cook for 2 minutes.
  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.
  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.
  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).
  7. Sprinkle with the cheese if using. Bake at 200°C until the topping is golden (20-25 minutes).

Cooks 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.
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