What’s cooking today: Cottage and Shepherd’s Pie get a good grilling

What’s cooking today: Cottage and Shepherd’s Pie get a good grilling
Tony Jackman’s cottage pie browned in an air fryer. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

The element of an air fryer is situated above the food that’s cooking below it. It’s also close to the top of the food. This makes an air fryer a perfect piece of equipment in which to grill the top of whatever you’re cooking.

You can’t just assemble some raw, seasoned mince in a dish, top it with potato and expect to have a cottage pie when it comes out of your air fryer. Sometimes an air fryer is just one of several kitchen tools you use for a dish. 

But you can finish a cottage pie or shepherd’s pie in your air fryer instead of baking it in your conventional oven. But first, of course, you have to cook your mince and your mashed potato in the old-fashioned way.

The difference between a cottage pie and a shepherd’s pie is only the choice of meat for your mince. Lamb’s mince and it’s a shepherd’s pie; beef and it’s cottage. Bear in mind that the former is more expensive and you will have to ask your butcher to mince some lamb for you. Leg meat, for example, makes good mince but it won’t be cheap. Beef mince, of course, is readily available prepackaged.

Make either a shepherd’s or a cottage pie, depending on your choice of meat. The method is the same, except for the stock; use lamb stock if making a shepherd’s pie.

(Serves 4)


800 g beef mince (or lamb’s)

1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

A few sprigs of thyme

200 ml beef stock (or lamb)

1 x 400 g can of chopped tomatoes

2 Tbsp soy sauce

2 Tbsp sweet soy sauce or kecap manis

A dash of Worcestershire sauce

A drizzling of Tabasco sriracha

1 tsp hot English mustard

Nutmeg, a grating or three

Salt and pepper to taste

Mashed potato, a good quantity


Milk or cream

Lots of salt for the mashed potato, and pepper


Put the potatoes in a pot of plenty of well-salted cold water, bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 20 minutes of boiling. Drain well and mash. Stir in a lot of butter and a good dollop of milk or cream. Season again with salt, while tasting, and white pepper.

Brown your onions with garlic in butter. Add the mince and work it with a wooden spoon so it doesn’t clump. Once browned and loose, add the thyme, stock, tomatoes, both soys, Worcestershire sauce and Sriracha, and stir in the mustard. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper, and cook on a moderate heat until the mince is tender, about 30 minutes, stirring to avoid it sticking. Make sure that the liquid has mostly cooked away while cooking.

Grease a suitable dish that will fit your air fryer. Spoon in the mince and top with mashed potato. Melt some butter and brush it on the top.

Bake it in an air fryer at 205℃ for 15 minutes. DM

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks.


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