Cottage pie

The Hairy Bikers make a low calorie version of this family favourite by picking lean beef and bulking out their mash with leeks
By Hairy Bikers
Cottage pie
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 6-8
  • Cook Time: 1.5 hours 30 minutes
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Effort: easy


For the lean beef filling:

  • 400 g lean minced beef
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, finely sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 400 g canned chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 500 ml beef stock, made with 1 beef stock cube
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 4 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tbsp cold water

For the leeky potato topping:

  • 750 g floury potatoes, such as King Edwards or Maris Pipers
  • 2 tsp sunflower oil
  • 2 slender leeks, trimmed and cut into 1cm slices
  • 150 g half-fat creme fraiche


1. For the lean beef filling: Place a large non-stick saucepan or flameproof casserole dish over a medium heat.

2. Add the mince and cook it with the onions, celery and carrots for 10 minutes until lightly coloured. Use a couple of wooden spoons to break up the meat as it cooks.

3. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato purée, beef stock, Worcestershire sauce and mixed herbs.

4. Season with a good pinch of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover loosely and simmer gently for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally until the mince is tender.

5. For the leeky potato topping: About 20 minutes before the meat is ready, make the potato topping. Peel the potatoes and cut them into rough 4cm chunks.

6. Put them in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat slightly and simmer for 1820 minutes or until the potatoes are very tender.

7. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the leeks for 5 minutes until softened but not coloured, stirring often.

8. Drain the potatoes, then tip them back into the pan. Season to taste and mash with the crème fraiche until smooth. Stir in the sautéed leeks and set aside.

9. Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. When the beef has been simmering for 40 minutes, mix the cornflour with the cold water to make a smooth paste.

10. Stir this into the beef and cook for another 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened, stirring often.

11. Pour the beef mixture into a 2-litre shallow ovenproof dish. Using a large spoon, top the beef with the mashed potatoes and leeks. Spoon the mixture all around the edge of the dish before heading into the middle, then fluff up with a fork.

12. Bake for 30 minutes until the topping is golden and the filling is bubbling.

13. If making this ahead of time, let the pie cool, then cover and put in the fridge. Cook from chilled in a preheated oven at 210C/190C fan/gas 6½ for 45 minutes or until the pie is piping hot throughout.

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