I'll begin by stating the obvious - cottage pie is made with minced beef, whereas shepherd's pie is made with lamb. These are the only differences. I state that because I have seen some dubious descriptions on some websites.
So why repeat a meal that is simplicity itself? Well this is not the standard rather bland recipe.
500g minced steak
3 rashers of cooked bacon, chopped
1 large onion
14oz baked beans
a handful of new potatoes, sliced
1 large carrot, sliced
2 tbsp Henderson's relish (or Worcestershire sauce)
1/2pt beef gravy
1 tsp oregano
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 tsp garlic salt
For the topping
2 large parsnips, chopped
2 large baking potatoes, chopped
2 tbsp creme fraiche
salt and pepper to taste
Boil the potatoes and chopped parsnips until soft. Mash them with butter, creme fraiche and salt and pepper. Set to one side.
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C
Brown the onion for five minutes, then similar with the mince. Add the bacon, garlic, oregano, tomato puree and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Add the baked beans, gravy and vegetables and cook for 20 minutes.
Transfer the meat sauce to an ovenproof dish and top with the potato/parsnip mash. Bake in the oven for 30 - 45 minutes until the topping is browned.
Serve with green veg.
The above will serve 4 - 6 people.
The topping made with parsnip has a sweeter tangy flavour which lifts the whole dish but you can use different types of vegetables for toppings.
Carrot and swede
Sweet potato and carrot.
The meat sauce has a slightly Italian flavour but your options are really legion and down to personal taste.