With the added ingredients of star anise and cloves, Adam Byatt gives his cottage pie recipe a delicate, festive twist. This cottage pie is ideally served in individual dishes, but feel free to serve in one large casserole dish if easier. This family favourite freezes very well, so is ideal for making ahead.
Adam Byatt is a creative and accomplished chef with a passion for British food. Starting his career aged sixteen, Adam has earnt a reputation for honest cooking, designed to showcase the very best local produce
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To prepare the vegetables, peel and roughly dice 2 of the carrots and peel and thinly slice the remaining. These will be used at separate times in the recipe
Wash and dice the leek and bruise the garlic cloves. Pick the leaves from 1 sprig of thyme and leave the other sprig whole
Place a pan over a medium heat and add a drizzle of vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onions to the pan and leave to caramelise for 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes
Meanwhile, place a separate pan over a high heat and add a dash of vegetable oil. Add the carrot slices (reserving the diced carrot) to the pan. Season with salt and add the star anise
Cook for 2 minutes, then turn down the heat and continue to cook for approximately 10 minutes, stirring regularly until the carrots just start to soften, remove and set aside
For the mash, place the potato chunks in a saucepan of cold salted water, cover and bring to the boil. Once boiling, continue to cook for approximately 20 minutes until tender
In a separate saucepan, bring the milk and butter just to the boil
Drain the potatoes in a colander, then stand the colander over the saucepan for 2-3 minutes - so the potatoes steam in their own heat
Mash the potatoes with a masher then fold in the hot milk and butter and beat well. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper
Spoon the mash into a piping bag with a 1cm round nozzle (if you have one) and set aside at room temperature until required
Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7
Add a splash of vegetable oil to a very large heavy-based casserole dish and place over a medium-high heat until very hot
Lightly season the mince with salt and pepper. Add to the pan and cook until lightly coloured all over, This will take 5-10 minutes, as the mince will release moisture first and brown afterwards
Then add the diced carrots, leeks, peppercorns, garlic and sprig of thyme. Cook for 5 minutes, add to the stock and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Fold in the soft carrot slices and caramelised onions. Remove from the heat
Divide the mixture between 4 individual cast iron or earthenware dishes. Pipe or spoon the mash on top as decoratively as you like. The pie can also be done in 1 large family-style dish
Place the dishes in the oven and cook for 12 minutes or until the mash is golden. Serve immediately
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