Mexican Chilli Cottage Pie

From Ainsley’s Fantastic Flavours, ITV

Cottage pie is a family favourite – it’s homely comfort food at its best. I’ve jazzed mine up with smoky chilli flavours and a cheesy jalapeno top for a spicy Mexican-inspired twist. If you can get them, ancho chilli flakes are great for adding a depth of smoky heat or try adding a little chipotle paste if you can’t. Enjoy with my spiced green beans and corn – a quick and vibrant side dish.


For the Cottage Pie

Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and cook over a medium heat for 4-6 minutes until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic and ancho chilli flakes and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Make a well in the centre and add the ground spices, oregano and sugar. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant and then stir through the onions. Add the minced beef, turn up the heat to medium-high and cook for 4-5 minutes, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon as it browns.

Add the tomatoes, tomato purée, bay leaf, beans and 250ml stock. Season and simmer for 25-30 minutes until the liquid has reduced and the mixture has thickened. If there is too much liquid, increase the heat and bubble away for a few minutes until reduced. If it looks too dry add a touch more stock. Check for seasoning, then spoon into a shallow large ovenproof dish. Allow to cool a little.

Pre-heat the oven to 200C/180Cfan/Gas Mark 6.

Meanwhile, put the potatoes and sweet potatoes into a pan of cold salted water, bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Drain well and leave to steam for a couple of minutes in the colander to dry out a little. Pass through a potato ricer, or mash well until smooth. Stir the butter and a splash of milk (if needed) into the mashed potato and season with white pepper and salt. Stir through the chopped jalapeno.

Spoon the mash over the cottage pie and spread evenly. Run a fork over the top to rough the surface and scatter with the cheese. Sprinkle over some ancho chilli flakes. Bake for 20-25 minutes until bubbling hot and golden brown.

Remove the pie from the oven and scatter with coriander.

For the Spiced Green Beans & Corn

Blanche the green beans in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain well.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the garlic and ancho chilli flakes and sauté for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the beans and corn and toss to coat. Cook for a minute to warm through. Season with sea salt and a good squeeze of lime juice.



  • For the Cottage Pie
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ancho chilli flakes, plus extra for the topping
  • 1 tsp mild chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp hot smoked paprika, or according to taste
  • 2 tsp dried oregano (Mexican if you can get it)
  • 2 tsp dark brown sugar
  • 750g good quality beef mince
  • 1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 x tin of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 250-300ml hot beef stock
  • salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • For the Mash
  • 900g floury potatoes, such as Maris Piper, peeled, cut into chunks
  • 300g sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into chunks
  • 50g butter
  • splash of milk, if needed
  • 2 tbsp sliced jalapenos from a jar, chopped
  • 80g Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander, to serve
  • For the Spiced Green Beans & Corn
  • 400g fine green beans, trimmed
  • 1 x 160g tin of sweetcorn, drained
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-2 tsp ancho chilli flakes
  • ½ lime or lemon for squeezing
  • flaky sea salt