A Proper Cottage Pie Recipe

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Traditional Cottage Pie Recipe.
  • 70 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins,
  • Cook: 40 mins
  • Yield: Serves 4
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Cottage pie is one of the classics of the British classic kitchen.  It is known for being a hearty, filling and warming food and though often thought as a winter dish, is perfect at any time of year. 

This recipe may look to be a lot of ingredients, but do not be put off, it is but making the pie is well worth the effort.

For a really tasty pie, use freshly minced beef, or if you want to be ultra thrifty, use up leftover beef from the Sunday roast to make your pie authentic (see below).

What You'll Need

  • 900g (2 lb)  peeled potatoes, quartered (KIng Edwards are good)
  • 6 tablespoon milk
  • 110g (4 oz) butter, cubed + 1 tbsp for the sauce
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon lard or dripping
  • 115g  (1 cup) chopped onion
  • 115g  (1 cup) chopped carrot
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 450g (2 cups)  ground/ minced beef** see note
  •  600 ml  (1 pint) beef stock
  • 115g (1 cup) chopped white mushrooms (optional)
  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon plain or all-purpose flour
  • 115g  (1 cup) grated Cheddar Cheese

How to Make It

Serves 6
Heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5

Place the potatoes into a pan and cover with boiling water. Boil gently until soft (about 15 minutes) then drain. Add the milk and butter to the pan, heat through until the butter melts, add the potatoes and mash. Season with salt to taste.

Melt the lard or dripping in a large deep pan, ovenproof pan. Add the onion and carrot and fry for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute making sure you do not burn the garlic.

Add the minced beef and roughly one quarter of the beef stock,  cook, stirring constantly until all the meat is browned. Add the remaining stock, the parsley and the mushrooms (if using) season with salt and pepper. Cover with atight fitting lid and cook for 15 minutes.

Mash the flour into the remaining butter to form a paste.  Add small pieces of the paste to the ground meat sauce, stirring until all the flour has dissolved, then repeat until all the paste is used up. The sauce should have thickened slightly.

Place the meat sauce into an 20cm deep glass, ceramic or cast iron ovenproof dish.  Cover with the mashed potato. Fluff up the mash then sprinkle with the grated cheese and bake in the heated oven for 30 - 35 mins until the surface is crisp and browned.

Serve immediately with fresh seasonal vegetables.

Notes on Making the Perfect Cottage Pie:

Using Leftover Beef

if you have beef left from the Sunday roast, simply chop it in a food processor and omit the cooking for the raw beef, just add the beef and stock to the carrot and onion mixture and continue from where the mince is browned in the pan.

Traditionally a Cottage Pie is made with ground beef, so if using minced or leftover lamb, the pie would be called a Shepherd's Pie. However, the recipe is exactly the same for both.

An alternative to the beef or lamb can be made using sausages. See the recipe here.

You will find a vegetarian cottage pie here too.

For a Cumberland Pie - add a final layer of fresh breadcrumbs after the mash.