The secret of a great cottage pie is to let the mince and other vegetables cook through with its rich gravy and to top it with a really tasty mash (either potato and another vegetable mashed together, or with butter or a strong grate cheese stirred in).
• Defrost 400g frozen lean minced beef or lamb (about £5/1kg) or source buy fresh mince if you prefer.
• Finely chop an onion and dice three large carrots, lightly frying them in oil with thyme to taste.
• After a few minutes when these have begun to cook, add the mince and cook until well browned.
• Add 400g chopped tomatoes and 300ml stock (beef, lamb or veg). Let this simmer for about 20-30 minutes until it’s blended well but isn’t too reduced. Before simmering, add a good handful of frozen peas if you want (they will cook as it bakes).
• Meanwhile boil 1kg of chopped root veg (either all potatoes or a mix of potato and parsnip or swede). When soft but not breaking up, drain and mash with butter or milk.
• Pour the mince mixture into a casserole dish and top with the mash, spreading it evenly and adding a ridged pattern with a fork.
• Put this in the oven and bake at gas mark 5 (190°C or 375°F) for 25-30 minutes, until the top is crusty and golden.
Start by putting the vegetarian mince in a frying pan with a finely chopped onion and herbs. To the pan add three large glugs of red wine and simmer fast until the wine has boiled off and the mince and onions have softened. Then you can either add this straight into the pot with the vegetables or fry it for a few minutes with a little vegetable oil.