Cottage pie is a British classic dish. It is hearty, fillng and warming food, but frankly, is quite delicious at any time.
There may look to be a lot of ingredients, but do not be put off. It is well worth the effort.
Use minced beef, or be ultra thrifty, and use up leftover beef from the Sunday roast to make your pie authentic (see below).
- 900g / 2 lb peeled potatoes, quartered (KIng Edwards are good)
- 6 tbsp milk
- 110g / 4 oz butter, cubed + 1 tbsp for the sauce
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 1/2 tbsp 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 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 115g / 1 cup grated Cheddar Cheese
- Heat the oven to 190°C/375°F/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.