Now that we are back in the swing of school, and in my favourite time of year for food; I’m bringing out all my old favourites of autumnal weeknight dinners! And cottage pie has to be near the top of the autumn hit list! This cottage pie has a rich tomatoey beefy base, and a sweet potato topping for the ultimate autumn flavours. I make this ahead of time, usually at the weekend when I have a bit more time, and pop it in the fridge. Then it’s like I’ve got a cheat night one of the busy school evenings when I can just shove it in the oven, plus it tastes all the better for leaving all the flavours to mingle.
I’m not going to put a list of ingredients, because this is one of those awesome meals that anything can be thrown into. I’ll just tell you what I did.
Firstly, peel and chop the sweet potatoes and simmer until soft throughout. These were organic sweet potatoes from the cambridge Food Hub, and I was delighted to see they were white inside! This lead to much excitement and googling sweet potato varieties. I LOVE real food, and despise being forced into having the same varieties and sizes of everything as dictated by the supermarket. I just love using small and organic suppliers that show you such amazing variety, and taste! I used about 4 medium ones to cover a family sized pie.
While the potato is cooking I fried diced onion in rapeseed oil until it was starting to soften, then I added crushed garlic and diced carrot. I left it to colour and start to soften for around 4-5 minutes.
Then I added the minced beef, seasoned well and browned. Once it was all brown I stirred in a concentrated beef stock, just about one ladle or one stock pot. Also I added 1 tbsp tomato purée and around 2 tbsp plain flour. I stirred well until incorporated and then added a jar of sieved tomato/ passata and a little water and a little more stock. I brought it to a simmer and left stirring occasionally until the potatoes were done.
Just as the mixture was about ready to be transferred to the oven dish I seasoned and added chopped parsley and a couple of handfuls of spinach.
Next I put the mixture into a large baking dish and I mashed the sweet potatoes with a little butter and seasoning.
Once mashed I spread roughly over the top of the meat, I love it looking real and not perfect! And I can’t forget that I added grated cheddar cheese to the top.
I baked it for about 30 minutes in an oven preheated to about 180o and then once cool I put it in the fridge.
I was so pleased to have it made when I was short on time one evening and shoved it back in a medium oven when the kids got home from school. I just prepared some green veg to go with it. The best this was that both children loved it, which is a breakthrough for me to get something they both like! Last autumn/ winter when we were having cottage pie a lot, one would scrape the potato off the top and just eat that and the other would just look disappointed and eat very little indeed! I sometimes curse how fast they grow up but the upside is that mealtimes are most certainly getting easier!