My nephew Lawrence taught me the difference between shepherd’s pie (lamb mince) and cottage pie (beef mince) when he was about eight. Cottage pie has always been a favourite of his and most of my family, especially the little ones.

Adding all these root vegetables to the mince makes this pie lighter and sneaks lots of healthy goodness without anyone under the age of eight even noticing.

For more information see:

Serves 4


For the mince:

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 large onions, finely chopped

1kg beef mince

Salt and freshly ground white pepper

2 large carrots, cut into small cubes

1 small squash, cut into small cubes

1 small turnip, cut into small cubes

1 litre of beef stock or 2 tsp Bovril dissolved in 1 litre of boiling water

For the mashed potato topping:

500g Maris Piper potatoes


50g unsalted butter

100ml full-fat milk


1 Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

2 Put the olive oil in a heavy-based casserole dish and when it is hot, add the onion and fry until golden but not browned.

3 Add the mince and fry over a hot heat until browned.

4 Season with salt and pepper then add the carrots, squash and turnip.

5 Add the stock or Bovril, reduce the heat and simmer for about 1½ hours or until the beef is tender.

6 Alternatively, put the lid on the casserole dish and bake in the pre-heated oven for about one 1 hour.

7 Next, make the mashed potato topping. Peel the potatoes, cut into quarters and put into a pan with salt and enough cold water to cover them.

8 Bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender. This should take about 20 mins.

9 Drain and mash the potatoes with the butter and milk. Leave the mash slightly wetter than normal as it will dry when baked. Season to taste.

10 Once the mince is cooked, transfer it to a deep pie dish and pipe the mash potato on top. Alternatively, you can use a palette knife to spread the potato evenly on top of the mince. Next, drag a fork over the potato, from side to side, creating little ridges. These will crisp when baked to give a nice crunch.

11. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes if you’re cooking the pie straight away or for 1 hour if you’re baking it from cold.