Sunday, September 21, 2008

Culinary Creations: Easy Leek & Cheese Topped Cottage Pie

This is my "cheat" version of cottage pie. Cottage pie is the correct name for this dish when using beef. Even though it is commonly know as "shepherd's pie", shepherd's pie is actually the name of this dish when using lamb. Which ever you call it, it is a very comforting dish. While I try not to use packets too often, there are just some nights when it's inevitable. Most of the ingredients for this dish are staples in my cupboard, with the mince in my freezer, making it an impromptu dish. Some time in the next few months I will post my "100% from scratch recipe".

I first start by browning 1 pound of mince beef or buffalo, with a good pinch of dried thyme. Once most of the pink is gone, I add in some chopped onion and carrot.

Next comes the packet of Coleman's Shepherd's Pie mix. I'm not only partial to Coleman's because I used to live in Norwich, I really do think their mixes are top notch. My local supermarket even carries it so I don't have to rely on stocking up in the UK or scouting out an import shop. Once you mix in packet, add 100ml of red wine, 200 ml of water, and if you are so inclined, two chopped slices of cooked bacon. This is also when I rely on my cupboard staples where I keep a small supply of dried vegetables. From that I added some dried celery, corn, and peas. Gently simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Once simmered, put into baking dish and top with mashed potato. Now, I did say this was impromptu. Instead of running to the supermarket for potatoes, I also have organic dried potato flakes in my cupboard. While I wouldn't serve this to company, it's a good solution for when its just us. I will say that I use a good quality butter (mostly Kerrygold Garlic & Herb Butter) and I always add fresh herbs. In this photo I used chives, rosemary, and thyme. Bake for 15 minutes at 350F.

This step was inspired by another Norwich legend: Delia Smith. After baking for 15 minutes, take out and top with 1 leek, sliced, then top with shredded cheddar cheese. Bake for another 15 minutes, or until bubbling.

Here is what it should look like when finished.

Enjoy! Some may turn their nose up at the use of packets and dried ingredients, but i think it beats the heck out of over processed frozen meals!


  • If you can't find Coleman's mix, any sort of beef, mushroom, onion, or brown gravy will do.
  • For a vegetarian version, use meat free gravy and lentils and mushrooms instead of mince. Or even vegetarian crumbles.
  • If you make this in advance, I would wait until the day of serving to add the potatoes, then follow instructions from that point on.


Jane King said...

Wow this looks amazing! I never turn my nose up at packets and nor do delia or nigella ;-) Sometimes you just dont have time to do everything from scratch and this is still a long way from a ready meal. I have never tried it with the leek and cheese on top it looks heaven and i an going to buy the ingredients from tesco tonight! Am 100% making this for my tea this week :-P The only dried potato i know of over here is smash and would be nice with herbs and butter. yum yum thanks for posting this!!

Amy Jemima said...

Thanks :-) Jamie Oliver would, but he doesn't have to cook at home every night after working a full day. It is very yum. My mom got on a kick and bought all of these dried ingredients and gave some to me. I was apprehensive at first, but with the possibility of hurricanes they're not a bad idea to have. Not to mention the convenience factor. I'm not sure how the potato flakes differ from instant mashed potatoes, but either would work. I've got two tins of the potatoes, no horrible hurricanes (so far) this summer, in our area at least, so will be doing this more often. Let me know what you think when you make it!

Jane King said...

I made mine it was heaven!! And made enough for 3 meals too so i am happy to say i have it for tea tonight too (thursday) :-P I am always making it this way from now on. i took some pics so will update my blog at weekend xx

Lisa said...

I can't wait for colder weather because I want to make dishes like this one. Looks delightful!

Amy Jemima said...

Thanks :-) If I remember correctly, you're from Oregon? Have you ever been to the place that has bacon dougnuts???