A Slightly Posher Cottage Pie



  1. 450 g lean ground beef
  2. 1 large onion, finely diced
  3. 1 garlic clove, minced
  4. 240 g whole peeled canned tomatoes
  5. 140 g tinned sweetcorn
  6. 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  7. 1 beef stock cube
  8. 150 ml armagnac
  9. 100 ml red wine
  10. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  11. 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
  12. 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  13. 12 teaspoon fennel seed
  14. 900 g floury potatoes, peeled
  15. 1 medium leek, washed and sliced
  16. 100 g cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
  17. 50 g butter
  18. 6 slices serrano ham, roughly torn into strips
  19. salt and pepper


  1. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and garlic and simmer for 5 minutes, or until translucent.
  2. Add the minced beef, breaking up any chunks, and cook until well browned.
  3. Add tomatoes, breaking up into smaller pieces, tomato puree, stock cube, herbs and spices and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Add the Armagnac (you can flame it if you wish, but this isn't necessary as the alcohol will boil off anyhow) and the red wine.
  5. Simmer for a further 10 minutes, taste and adjust seasoning.
  6. Meanwhile, cut potatoes into approx 1.5inch cubes and place in a pan of salted cold water.
  7. Place the pan, covered, over a high heat until it starts to boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
  8. Once potatoes are tender, drain and cover with a teatowel for several minutes.
  9. Add the butter to the potatoes (NO MILK!)
  10. and use an electric whisk to mash them.
  11. Try to leave a bit of body for texture, rather than making them completely smooth.
  12. Taste and add salt and pepper if required.
  13. Place the cooked meat in an ovenproof dish and cover completely with the potato.
  14. Sprinkle the leeks over the potato and cover with the cheese.
  15. Finally, lay the strips of serrano over the top and place in a preheated oven (200C) for about 25 minutes, until the cheese is melted and golden, and the serrano has gone crispy.
  16. Serve with warm country bread.
  17. Yummy.