Cottage pie with cavolo nero and sweet potato top

Skill level
Preparation Time
20 Minutes
Cooking Time
1 Hour 25 Minutes
Serves 4
Main meal

A cottage pie is a great British classic, especially in the winter months. In this seasonal version we mix a rich beef sauce made with red wine, thyme and bay leaves, with peas, carrots and the season’s best cavolo nero cabbage. A layer of baked potatoes and sweet potatoes is a lovely alternative to mashed potato. Top tip: if you’re making this dish over Christmas, swap your circle cookie cutter for stars.


  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 3 large white potatoes (Maris Piper or similar)
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 small tin (142g) tomato puree
  • A dash of Worcester sauce
  • 1kg minced beef
  • 1 small glass (125ml) red wine
  • 250ml beef stock or 1 beef stock pot and 250ml water
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and finely sliced
  • 100g frozen petite pois
  • 100g cavolo nero
  • 30g cheddar cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper


  1. 1Fry the onion in 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a large casserole dish on a medium heat until soft.
  2. 2Add the garlic, followed by the minced beef. Stir frequently until lightly browned
  3. 3Add the carrots, thyme and the bay leaf. Then add the plain flour and give it a good mix through and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  4. 4Stir through the tomato puree, Worcester sauce, red wine and stock/stock pot and water and bring to the boil.
  5. 5Reduce to a simmer and cook for about an hour - stirring regularly until the sauce has thickened and the flavours have infused, and the colour becomes dark and rich. You may need to add a dash of water if it starts to look dry. Add the frozen peas for the last 10 minutes of cooking.
  6. 6Preheat the oven to 180°C / Fan 160°C / Gas 4.
  7. 7Peel the potatoes and cut into 1cm slices. Depending on the size of your potatoes and cookie cutter this may be lengthways or widthways. Using your cookie cutter, cut out the shapes and place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and season. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
  8. 8Bring a pan of water to the boil. Remove the central stem from the cavolo nero and cut in half, then cook in the boiling water for 3-4 minutes.
  9. 9To assemble the dish, line the bottom of a lasagne dish with the cavolo nero. Pour the cottage pie mixture on top and top it off with the potato stars or circles.
  10. 10Sprinkle the grated cheese on top of the stars or circles and put in the oven for 10 minutes until melted.