Cottage Pie with Potato Topping

P1040953Yum! This recipe is a good one. It’s another one from Mary Berry’s newest cookbook, Mary Berry Cooks. The recipe is a bit labor intensive to make but the payoff is worth it. She recommends King Edward potatoes, but I just use any firm potato I have on hand.

Cottage Pie with Dauphinois Potato Topping

Serves 6-8

1 Tablespoon sunflower oil (I actually don’t use this)
900 g/2 lbs ground beef
2 onions, chopped
4 celery sticks, diced
50 g/2 oz/.25 cup plain (all-purpose) flour
250 ml/9 fl oz/1 cup red wine
300 ml/.5 pint/1 cup pint beef stock
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons light brown (muscovado) sugar
1 Tablespoon chopped thyme
250 g/9 oz/.5 lbs small chestnut mushrooms, sliced
dash of gravy browning (optional)*
1.5 kg/3 lbs King Edward potatoes, peeled and cut into 4mm (this converts to “very thin”–technically, 5/32nd of an inch) slices
150ml/ .25 pint/.5 cup pouring double cream**
100g/4 oz/ .5 cup strong Cheddar cheese, grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. You will need a 2-litre/3.5-pint shallow ovenproof dish. Heat the oil, if using, in a large frying pan until hot. Fry the beef over a high heat until golden brown, stirring, then remove from the pan and set aside. Add the onions and celery to the pan and fry until beginning to soften. Return the beef to the pan.

2. Whisk the flour and wine (or water, if you prefer) together in a bowl to make a smooth paste. Whisk in the stock then add to the pan with the Worcestershire sauce, sugar and thyme. Bring to the boil, stirring until thickened, then add the mushrooms and gravy browning, if using, and season. Cover with a lid and simmer for 45 minutes, until the beef is tender, then check the seasoning.

3. Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/Gas 7/ 350°F. Cook the potato slices in boiling salted water for about 4-5 minutes, until they are just soft. Drain carefully in a colander and leave to cool a little. Don’t worry if the potatoes break up a little, as this will help them absorb the cream; if they are too hard they will be waxy and the cream will run off.

4. Put the cooked meat in the ovenproof dish. Arrange a layer of potatoes on top of the meat, then pour over half the cream. Arrange the remaining potato on top, seasoning between the layers, then pour over the remaining cream and sprinkle on the cheese. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until bubbling.

*I had never heard of gravy browning before I came across this recipe, and I still have no idea what it is–so I don’t use it. I also don’t use the mushrooms, as I’m the only one in the family who eats them.

**The best equivalent to double cream in the US is probably unwhipped whipping cream. Double cream, in the UK, is what we use if we’re making whipped cream, though it’s at least 48% butterfat–I don’t think whipping cream has a fat content that high in the US.
Tasty Tuesdays on

4 thoughts on “Cottage Pie with Potato Topping

    1. Ginny Williams Post author

      You really can’t go wrong with Mary Berry, you’re right. Hubby doesn’t like mash? Wow–I thought everybody liked mash! It’s one of the most important food groups in my house! 🙂

  1. James G. Milles

    This looks delicious. As for gravy browning, my mom always had a bottle of Kitchen Bouquet in the pantry. Gordon Ramsay would show disdain, but Paula Deen and Rachel Ray probably use it.

    1. Ginny Williams Post author

      It is very delicious, Jim. One of my recent favorites. Maybe I’ll have to explore this gravy browning ingredient–not sure I’d ever use it, but I’d like to have more of a clue what it is.


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