Cottage Pie Recipe

by Sam

Easy to follow Cottage Pie Recipe with images, instructions and tasty variations. Great for beginners and advanced cooks alike.

Here my Cottage Pie Recipe for this ultimate English comfort food ;-) A juicy ground meat stew topped with cheesy mashed potatoes. Sometimes also known as Shepherd's Pie, this dish is a favorite not only in English, but also in Irish, Welsh and Scottish families. It is a very 'forgiving' dish, so don't be afraid to swap the ingredients or to add some more ... And its even gluten-free, as long as you avoid using any ready-made seasoning mixtures that might contain flour.

Cottage Pie Recipe

Cottage Pie Recipe

Prep time 30 min  -  Total time 50 min
Ingredients for 4 servings
1lb. (450g) lean, unseasoned ground meat  • 1 onion  • 1 garlic clove  • 2 carrots  • 1 bay leaf  • 4 oz. (100g) mushrooms  • 1/2 Pint (250ml) stock  • 2 Tbsp (30ml) tomato puree  • salt  • pepper  • 1 1/2 lbs (700g potatoes)  • 1 oz (25g) butter  • 4 Tbsp (60 ml) milk or cream  • 2 oz (50g) grated cheese  • salt  • pepper  • nutmeg  • red wine (optional)

Frying the meat

Break the ground meat up in small chunks and fry it in a dry (oil free) non-sticky pan until it is nicely brown. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside. Leave fat in frying pan.

Fry other ingredients

Finely chop carrots and garlic, slice mushrooms. Add them to the pan and fry until carrots are browned and onion, garlic and mushrooms are soft, just don't burn them ;-)

Making the meat mixture

If there is a lot of fat in the pan, carefully remove some of it. Return meet to the frying pan and add the bay leaf, salt, pepper, stock and tomato puree. Add a nice dash of dry red wine if you like to ;-) Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until you have a thick, smooth mixture.

Preparing the Potato Mash

Whilst the meat stew is stewing ;-) peel and cut potatoes in quarters and cook in lightly salted water until soft. Drain and put into a mixing bowl. Add milk / cream, butter and a generous amount of freshly grated nutmeg and mash well together using a large fork or a 'potato masher'. Doing this by hand will give you better results, than using a kitchen machine for it. You might need to add a bit more milk and / or cream if your potatoes are very 'dry', the consistency of the mash should be smooth, easy to spoon out, but not too 'soupy'.

Putting it all together ;-)

Spoon meat mixture in a high, oven-proof dish and top with mashed potatoes leaving no meat 'on view'. Sprinkle with the grated cheese and bake at 400F (200C) for 15 minutes or until the top is nicely brown.

Enjoy your meal!

Serve with vegetables or a salad.

Recipe  3.0/5 Stars (4 Votes)

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Cottage or Shepherd's Pie?

... what is in a name?

British folk-lore has it that this dish is called 'Cottage Pie' when made with minced beef and 'Shepherd's Pie' when made with minced lamb. Fact is, you can use pretty much any minced meat you like ;-) Said that, choose a lean meat, if not there is too much fat to throw away and choose a meat with lots of flavor as the sauce itself is pretty heavy and may 'over power' the meat flavor otherwise. And then you can invent your own name for your pie ;-) Here some meats I have tried out so far, that worked well for us and the names (my name inventions in italics) for them:

  • Minced Beef - Cottage Pie
  • Minced Lamb - Shepherd's Pie
  • Minced Pork - Farm Pie
  • Minced Game - Hunter's Lodge Pie

Cottage Pie Recipe Tips and Variations

Like I said in the introduction, this is a very 'forgiving' recipe that you can alter and adjust to your hearts content, here some ideas. As long as you make sure that your stew is thick and smooth and covered completely by the mashed potatoes, it well turn out a treat.

Give it a Mediterranean flair by adding more garlic and lots of fresh, or dried herbs, particularly thyme, oregano, basil, rosemary and the like work well.

Go vegetarian by replacing the ground meat with an equal amount of diced root vegetable and / or soya chunks. Obviously use vegetable stock.

Add a dash of red wine and / or fresh, diced tomatoes for an even richer taste.

Go cheesy and add more grated cheese, not only sprinkled on top, but also folded into the mashed potatoes, especially kids will love that!

Experiment and create your very own Family Cottage Pie recipe!

Image Credits

Thumbnail (cc) f_shields
Thumbnail (cc) f_shields
(cc) Kai Hendry
(cc) Kai Hendry
Updated: 03/15/2012, Sam
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Tolovaj on 09/11/2012

I didn't know there are so many different names for basically the same thing... I always called it shepherd's pie. Never tried it with mushrooms. It's good meal for upcoming cold days.

Mira on 08/19/2012

Looking at the ingredients, I know this tastes great. I wil make it! Pinned to my Favorite Recipes Board on Pinterest ;-)

LadyGuinevere on 04/16/2012

Now I know the differences in the pie's and the ingredients tht make them so. Thanks and this sounds delicious

Sam on 04/06/2012

That are some really good tips / ideas 2uesday! Thank you ;-)

Sam on 03/23/2012

No matter what you call it, Cottage or Shepherd's Pie, it is always, it is always delicious ;-) Bon Apetit and thanks for reading!

terrilorah on 03/23/2012

Now I am hungry. We call it Shepherd's Pie and I think I'm gonna make this next week1 Great article by the way.

Sam on 03/16/2012

I guess in the UK you could start a really fierce discussion about 'Cottage or Shepherd's Pie' ;-) Using frozen vegetables is fine, if fresh ones are not at hand btw.

dustytoes on 03/16/2012

I used to make Shepherd's pie with ground beef, back when I ate ground beef. It was an easy meal to make with frozen veggies. Your recipe sounds way better and I just might try the vegetarian option. I've never heard the term "cottage pie" so had to see what it was.

Sam on 03/16/2012

Sounds delicious Lou! I sometimes put turnips and carrots into my mash for Cottage Pie, will try your idea also!

lou16 on 03/15/2012

One of my favorite meals :) Another variation is to use kumera mash instead of potato (kumera is a purple sweet potato).

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