Spicy shepherds cottage

Shepherd’s Cottage is what we called Shepherd’s and Cottage Pies in our house when I was a child and the name has stuck. I like the freedom it provides – use lamb or beef as takes your fancy or as the fridge/freezer allows! Equally delicious with lentils as a base instead of mince.

I like to spice it up a little, using a jar of good shop bought curry paste. I see no harm in using ready-made ‘cheat’ ingredients on the odd occasion. Let’s be realistic, Nigella and Delia both do!

To save time, you can swap out the mash potatoes for a pack of gnocchi, like in this photo. Simply top the pie with the gnocchi (no need to cook or even defrost first), add a few knobs of butter and a grating of cheese if you wish and into the oven it goes.

Cottage pie gnocchi topping

Serves 2


olive oil

1 onion, peeled and chopped

1 or 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 inch piece of ginger, grated

250g minced beef or lamb

1 carrot, peeled and diced

4-6 mushrooms, sliced

3/4 tablespoon Madras curry paste (I use Pataks)

1/2 tablespoon tomato puree

1 beef stock cube

1/2 pint hot water

1/2 cup frozen peas

salt and pepper

2 large potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 tsp turmeric

white pepper

a knob butter

a drop of milk


  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/200°C.
  2. On a high heat, cook the mince with a little oil until brown.
  3. Turn down the heat and gently fry the onion and carrot until soft.
  4. Add the garlic, mushrooms and a good grinding of pepper and cook for another minute or two.
  5. Add the curry paste and tomato puree and mix in well. Crumble in the stock cube and pour in the hot water.
  6. Bring to the boil then turn down the heat and cook gently for 20-30 minutes.
  7. Whilst the filling is cooking, place the potatoes in the saucepan with some water, salt and the turmeric and bring to the boil. Boil for 10-15 minutes until soft then drain the water from the potatoes.
  8. Add a drop of milk, a knob of butter and some white pepper to the potatoes then mash.
  9. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish and stir through the peas.
  10. Top the mixture with the mashed potato and bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the topping is brown.

Serve with French beans, roast sprouts or whatever vegetables you fancy.