What’s Cooking Today: Chilli Con Carne Cottage Pie

What’s Cooking Today: Chilli Con Carne Cottage Pie
Chilli con carne topped with buttery mashed potato to create a switched-up cottage pie with a Mexican flavour. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

This is a cool mash-up of traditional dishes: spicy and bean-loaded chilli con carne used as a base for a cottage pie. It includes a sprinkling of Cheddar cheese above the layer of cooked savoury ground beef, topped by buttery mashed potato and baked.

Tony Jackman has gone fishing for new recipes. Here, from June 2020, is his mashup, so to speak, of chilli con carne with a traditional cottage pie. Use red kidney beans if you have them but borlotti or sugar beans will do just fine. Add more or less chilli according to your preference. It would be obvious to sprinkle the Cheddar over the mashed potato, but I decided it would be good to let it ooze into the savoury mince while in the oven, to give it more of a Mexican feel.


500 g lean beef mince

1 large onion (or 2 small), chopped

3 fat cloves garlic, chopped

3 Tbs olive oil

4 or 5 ripe tomatoes (depending on size), chopped

115 g tomato purée

3 or 5 chillies, chopped (don’t discard the seeds)

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground cumin

1x 400 g can beans (borlotti, red kidney or sugar beans)

4 or 5 large potatoes, peeled, halved, boiled in well salted water till soft and drained

2 Tbs butter

4 Tbs milk or cream

200 g grated mature Cheddar

Salt and pepper to taste


Peel and boil the potatoes in well salted water till soft. Drain. Return to the same pot and mash. Add salt (to taste), plenty of butter and a good dash of milk or cream. Stir over a moderate heat. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 200℃.

Simmer onion and garlic in olive oil until lightly browned. Add the tomato purée and braise for a minute to tame the tartness of the purée. Add the beef mince and work it with a wooden spoon to prevent it from clumping. Add the chopped tomatoes (or a can of chopped tomatoes), the chopped chillies and the cinnamon and cumin and simmer until the meat is cooked, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir to avoid catching at the bottom. Add the beans, stir and cook for a further five minutes or so.

Grease an oven dish. Pour in the chilli con carne. Sprinkle the grated Cheddar evenly over this (use more cheese if you like, I would), to melt into the chilli while in the oven. Top with mashed potato. Draw a fork over the top to create ridges like mamma used to do. Dot with butter. Bake for half an hour. 

TGIFood Tip: Add some ground cumin and garlic salt to melted butter before stirring it into the mashed potato for some extra zing. DM/TGIFood

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