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Beef, Cheese, Potatoes

Cottage Pie with Cheese Crusted Leeks

A few weeks ago I posted my results with Jamie’s Shepherd’s Pie and I really enjoyed it. This time I thought I’d go for a Cottage Pie. For those who don’t know the difference, Shepherd’s Pie uses lamb, Cottage Pie uses beef.

As I do a lot of Jamie and Delia dishes I thought it only fair to try Delia’s recipe this time which you can find here in its original version on the Waitrose website.


  • 400g minced beef
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
  • 100g carrot, peeled and chopped very small
  • 100g swede, peeled and chopped very small
  • 1½ level tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 level tbsp plain flour
  • 275ml beef stock
  • 1 level tbsp tomato purée
  • Salt and freshly milled black pepper
  • 50g mature cheddar, coarsely grated
  • 2 medium leeks, cleaned
  • 900g Desiree or King Edward potatoes, peeled and cut into even-sized pieces
  • 50g butter

Method of Preparation:

  1. You will need a large lidded frying pan or saucepan and a 19cm square baking dish, 5cm deep, well buttered.
  2. First take the frying pan or saucepan and heat the olive oil over a medium flame and fry the onions until they are tinged brown at the edges. Now add the carrot and swede and cook for 5 minutes or so. Then remove the vegetables and put them to one side.
  3. Now turn the heat up and brown the meat in batches — a wooden fork is helpful here, as it helps to break up the mince. Then add the cooked vegetables, cinnamon, herbs and some seasoning. Next, stir in the flour and gradually add the stock to the meat mixture. Finally, stir in the tomato purée. Now turn the heat down, put the lid on the pan and let it cook gently for about 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, steam / boil the potatoes, sprinkled with a little salt, until they’re tender — about 25 minutes. While this is happening, prepare the leeks by cutting them in half lengthways and then cut each half lengthways again. Next cut the leeks into 1cm slices. Preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6.
  5. When the potatoes are done, drain off the water, return them to the saucepan, cover with a clean tea cloth to absorb the steam and leave them for about 5 minutes. Next, add the butter and some seasoning and mash them to a purée. Don’t be tempted to add any milk here, because the mashed potato on top of the pie needs to be firm.
  6. When the meat is ready, spoon it into the baking dish. After that, spread the mashed potato evenly all over, then sprinkle over the leeks followed by the cheese. Then bake on a high shelf for 35 minutes until the top is crusty and golden.

Delicious! I could stop there but I won’t. As usual I had to make a couple of changes. I really thought I had some thyme and parsley in the freezer but alas not so I added a Schwartz bouquet garni that I had in the cupboard as soon as I added the stock and took it out again before I covered it in the mashed potato – obviously. These are quite handy little things to have as they come prepared like a tea bag, strong enough to be pushed around a pan of steaming food too.

A little bit caramelised...

A little bit caramelised…


Actually, that was the only change I made. As you can see from the picture above it looks like my oven was a bit too hot as the leeks have all caramelised (burned) around the edges of the dish but it didn’t matter – turns out I like the flavour of burned leeks, who knew?

My tips for you would be first of all to do all your prep for the meat mixture before you start (you can get your potatoes done while your meat is cooking) and make sure you check on it while it’s in the oven if you don’t want the leeks to end up like mine. The debate goes on, Jamie or Delia – I just don’t know.



  1. Pingback: #12 – Chilli Beef Pot Noodle | Need 4 Noodles - February 6, 2013

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