My take on Hemsley & Hemsley Cottage Pie

On Sunday, I made this wonderful cottage pie recipe from the Hemsley sisters website. It is my birthday next week, and their book is now firmly on my wish-list, as this recipe was so damn lovely. Cottage pie is not something I make often, but with this recipe in mind I will certainly be making it again, which is making me excited for winter again already….!

I found this version a lot lighter than the usual recipes, perfect for these cold (yet sunny) Sunday’s after an afternoon of pottering about and a walk to the local pub.

Due to the contents or my fridge and larder, I had to improvise slightly, as I only had 1 cauliflower in and no courgettes. So instead of doing a full cauli mash (which uses 2 full cauliflowers), I substituted one for a sweet potato and combined the two. It worked a treat! Instead of the diced courgette, I used frozen petit pois.

Below I have provided the full, original recipe and have added my tweaks in brackets. The recipe takes about 2 hours from start to finish and serves 4. It is suitable for freezing. 

My take on Hemsley & Hemsley Cottage Pie

What you need:

For the Cottage Pie Filling-

  • 1 tablespoon of ghee or butter (I used butter)
  • 500g of good quality, lean minced beef
  • 1 large onion/leek finely chopped (I used onion)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, finely diced
  • 1 stick of celery, finely diced
  • 1 medium courgette, finely diced (I used petit pois instead)
  • 250ml red wine
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato puree
  • 1 teaspoon of dried or 1½ teaspoons of fresh thyme plus some to garnish (I used dried thyme, and seasoned with fresh parsley)
  • 1 teaspoon of dried or 1½ teaspoons of fresh, roughly chopped rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • A small handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 350 – 400ml of hot good quality beef, chicken or vegetable stock (I used a Kallo Organic chicken stock cube)
  • 1 large pinch sea salt
  • 1 large pinch black pepper

For the Cauliflower/Sweet Pot Mash-

  • 2 small garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 large cauliflowers, remove outer green leaves and roughly chop the into equal sized pieces (I only used 1 cauliflower)
  • (1 medium-large sweet potato, washed, peeled and cut into 3cm chunks)
  • 1 teaspoon of English mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of butter to blend and 2 teaspoons of chopped up butter to top the mash
  • 1 large pinch sea salt
  • 1 large pinch black pepper
  • Optional 2 teaspoons of chopped chives or 1 finely sliced spring onion (I used spring onion)
  • Optional 60g of mature cheddar cheese, grated (I used 30g Parmesan cheese)

Serve with-

Steamed buttered greens: I steamed some tenderstem broccoli and some fresh spring greens.

Hemsley & Hemsley Cottage Pie - filling in progress
Hemsley & Hemsley Cottage Pie – filling in progress

What to do:

  1. Brown the mince in half a tablespoon of butter (or ghee) and set aside.
  2. In the same pan, add the remaining butter and sauté the onions, celery and carrots, bay leaves, rosemary and thyme for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and gently fry for a further minute.
  4. Return the mince to the pan and stir in the  tomato puree and red wine. Cook on a medium heat for a few minutes until the liquid has reduced.
  5. Add the stock and simmer with the lid on for at least 30 minutes – we like to slow cook for up to an hour adding more stock or water if it’s starts to get dry, (which I did – slow cook for 1 hour if you can).
  6. Once cooked, stir through the petit pois and fresh parsley and taste for seasoning.
  7. Add the peas after the rest of the filling is cooked to avoid over cooking
    Add the peas after the rest of the filling is cooked to avoid over-cooking them
  8. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200C.
  9. Add the chopped sweet potato to a pan of boiling salted water and simmer for 10 minutes until tender, drain and set aside to allow the steam to evaporate.
  10. In a saucepan, steam the cauliflower and whole garlic cloves with just a few tablespoons of water, lid on, for 5 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender. Use a knife to check.
  11. Remove the saucepan from the heat, drain any excess liquid and add the sweet potato, butter, grated cheese and mustard. Blend or mash until creamy and smooth. If it’s too sloppy or wet allow the mash to evaporate on a low heat. (I just used a potato masher – the consistency wasn’t completely smooth, but it was well-mashed with a little texture)
  12. Season to taste and add the spring onions or chives.
  13. Take a large oven dish or individual dishes and fill to two thirds of the beef mixture, then top with the cauliflower mash. Use a fork to criss cross over the top and dot with bits of butter.
  14. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until golden. Finish with a sprinkle of chives or some some fresh thyme leaves (I finished with fresh parsley, as that’s what I had in, it was lovely).
The dots of butter make all the difference :-)
The dots of butter make all the difference 🙂

Hemsley & Hemsley Cottage Pie - the finished product.

Hemsley & Hemsley Cottage Pie – the finished product.

Hope you enjoy! Love Sophie -x-