ChefGary's "healthy" low calorie cottage pie recipe

Cottage pie is a hugely popular home cooked dish for lots of cooks and chefs at all levels. It's certainly one of my own personal favourite comfort "dinners" bringing back plenty of childhood memories at the family table with Grandma, a master at classic British dishes and my very own food hero. Using a good quality lean minced beef with plenty of flavour, enhanced by the onions, carrots and natural gravy that the meat is casseroled in makes for a hearty and fabulous filling dish. The crisp topping of browned mashed potatoes with grated cheddar is the perfect texture balance, leaving no wonder as to why it's such a home and pub food favourite. 

Of course, having red meat as the main ingredient along with a carbohydrate feuled topping, cottage pie is not perceived as a "healthy" dish... Recently though, I got together with Terry (CoachAnderson) to see if we could put together some traditional easy to cook comfort dinners, with essence on low calorie and balanced nutritional values.  Aiming to create a simple recipe that would be easy enough to reproduce was a different challenge to what I am used to but having a cook off together, carefully weighing out ingredients to ensure all the numbers added up made for an interesting and tasty afternoon ;) Wanting to create a "decent" portion that would fill a healthy appetite and give that satisfied feeling became our biggest challenge. We played around with various options, though decided to stay traditional with beef, mainly due to flavour and staying true to what we both wanted to create. We opted to incorporate swede and sweet potato into the topping, using just enough cheese to add texture though not increase the overall fat in the recipe. Our end result was an extremely tasty dish that easily satisfied our stomachs and at an incredibly low calorie count :)

Serves four, (Only 500 calories per portion)

300grams lean minced beef
2 medium onions, finely diced
2 large carrots, finely diced
3 sticks celery, finely diced
1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
1 tablespoon tomato purée
2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoon branston pickle
1 tin chopped tomatoes
100 grams peas
Salt and pepper
1 large white potato, roughly chopped
2 medium sweet potato, roughly chopped
1 small swede, roughly chopped
Teaspoon Dijon mustard
50 grams grated cheddar

1) Preheat a large saucepan before chucking in your mince to brown. No added fat/oil is necessary.
2) Meanwhile, plunge the potatoes and swede in cold water and bring to the boil, allowing to simmer until soft.
3) Add the onion, carrot and celery to the beef mince, cooking for another 5 minutes, whilst stirring occasionally.
4) Add the dried herbs and tomato purée and cook for a further few minutes.
5) Add the remaining ingredients, bring to the boil and then add salt and pepper to taste.
6) Whilst the mince is still simmering, drain off the potatoes and swede and whisk to a rough mash, adding the Dijon mustard, salt and pepper,
7) Pour the mince "mix" into a shallow tray, spreading the "mash" over the top. Sprinkle on the grated cheese and bake @ 220 centigrade until browned (about 30 mins)
8) Serve with fresh steamed vegetables and gravy.

Chef's tips:
1) Browning your mince and onions for a longer time before adding any liquid will increase the natural flavour to the dish.
2) Filling your plate up with fresh vegetables will only add about 100 calories to your dinner. A serving of bisto gravy is only 12 calories.
3) Prep in advance as much as possible, saving time to cook on the evening.

For further enquiries, please contact me via email or telephone.
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