The Hairy Dieters’ Cottage Pie

I had had a busy but enjoyable afternoon baking banana muffins for a customer yesterday. After my customer had departed happy and satisfied with her order, I had to crack on with our dinner.  I usually try to cook a Sunday roast when I can as I am passionate about family Sunday meals and sitting down all together around the table.  But yesterday was different as my hubby was out at a motor racing event near Leeds, so he would need a hot meal when he came back in in the evening.

I had some minced beef that needed using up and plenty of potatoes so I thought that a cottage pie would fit the bill nicely. Sadly, in August it should be BBQ’s all round not hearty comfort fare that you would usually have on a cold winter’s night. But, as everyone knows we have not had a very good summer weatherwise here in the UK and my BBQ remains in the garage unused since about June!

Once again, I wanted to find a version of Cottage Pie that was healthier than the usual one.  I have tended to add butter when mashing the potatoes, then grating Cheddar cheese over the top of it before it goes in the oven.  This usually is to appease my hubby and son who love this.  Since I had last made Cottage Pie though my daughter has decided to stop eating meat, so I wasn’t sure how I could make this suit her as well.  If I made it with Quorn, my hubby would refuse to eat it! Luckily the new Hairy Dieter’s book had a version of Cottage Pie in it and if it was anything like all the other recipes I had tried out of their book so far, then I was in for a treat!

The fat and the calories have been lowered by using the leanest minced beef you can find and also by dry frying it instead of using oil.  The potatoes are mashed with half fat creme fraiche and also have chopped leeks to add a bit of flavour to the topping.

I dry fried the meat with chopped onions, celery and carrots. I took particular care to chop up the celery really finely as my husband doesn’t like it and I didn’t want him to notice it in the pie!  Once the meat was browned I added a tin of tomatoes, tomato puree, beef stock, some Worcestershire sauce and black pepper to the pan.  It simmered away for about 30 minutes but while that was going on I prepared the potatoes to boil.  The leeks were sauteed very gently in a couple of teaspoons of sunflower oil to soften them up before adding to the mashed potato.

Once everything was cooked I put it all into an ovenproof dish.  My usual cottage pie dish was too big for this recipe so I used an oval casserole dish which was smaller. Unfortunately this was too small so I had to take some of the meat out in order to put the mashed potato topping on top of it. I made a real mess of it and some leaked out all over the oven tray it was resting on.

The cottage pie was absolutely delicious and no one made any comments about the lack of butter and cheese in the recipe. My husband enjoyed it. I kept some of the leeky mash back for my daughter to eat with a spicy Quorn fillet and we also had a dish of peas and green beans on the side.

Once again, due to being in a hurry I completely forgot to take a photo of our delicious cottage pie.

Happy Cooking!
Sam xx

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