Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Cottage Pie

Cottage pie, not to be confused with shepherds pie (which is made with lamb - hence the shepherd) is a Great British Classic, always good as comfort food and to warm you up on a dull grey day. It is fairly simple to make, but can take a while. The trick is to get the potatoes on and boiling and then make the meaty sauce filling, so making the best use of your time.

There are many variations of this recipe, some with veg in, some just meat, some people add baked beans or tinned tomatoes. This is how I like it!


  • 2 onions
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 500 g minced beef
  • 3 tablespoons beef gravy granules
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 200 mL water
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 long runner beans, topped, tailed and sliced
  • 500 g potatoes - peeled
  • Butter for mashing
  • Milk for mashing
  • Strong cheddar cheese for grating on top
  • 1 leek
First of all start by peeling the potatoes, chop them smaller if needed, and boil in salted water until cooked.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Whilst the spuds are cooking, heat the oil in a large pan on a medium-high heat, then fry the chopped onions and garlic for 2 minutes, then add the peeled chopped carrots and fry for another 2 minutes.

Now add the minced beef, and cook until browned. Sprinkle on the gravy granules and mix around well. There will be plenty of juices from the meat to mix this in with. Add in the water and stir well. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, adding the sliced beans just before turning off the heat. The sauce should look juicy yet thick, if not then reduce for a further few minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, you may not need much salt if the gravy granules you used were already salted.

Pour into a baking dish like this:

Now, if you have timed this right, the potatoes should be cooked about now, so drain them, season, add the butter and milk, and mash. Be quite generous with the milk and butter as you want nice smooth, creamy mash for spreading on top of the meat filling.

When putting the mashed potato on top, you can either pipe it on, or spoon it on top. I usually just spoon it on with a spatula, building it up from around the edges of the dish, like below:

Now slice and chop the leeks. Place in a colander and rinse well under the tap. I find this is the easiest way to wash a leek, the alternative is to slice it lengthways half way through and then fan open the leaves and rinse under the tap, but I find it easier to clean the leek with it all sliced up first, like this:

Sprinkle the leeks on top of the pie, then season with salt and pepper on the top, and sprinkle the whole lot generously with grated cheese.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the leeks start to brown.

Serve straight away, no vegetables needed on the side since they are all in the pie. There should be enough for 4 people, but this will keep well in the fridge or freezer as well if you can't eat the whole lot in one sitting.

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Ruth Elkin said...

I love cottage pie... I would make it quite often. I keep meaning to make 2 separate servings so I can top mine with cheese - and now I'll have to try topping with leeks too because it looks delicious!

Ryan said...

Just put cheese and leeks on half of it if your other diner does not like cheese! That will work just fine.

BY the way, this is good the next day but the mash soaks up some of the gravy so you need a good dollop of tomato ketchup to liven it up!

Ben said...

Oh this looks really, really good. I need to make this before it is too hot to enjoy this comfort food. Great recipe, Ryan.

toontz said...

Ohhh, that looks scrumptious, Ryan. Too bad half the family are now vegetarians. It is too hard being a short order cook, so the rest of us are mostly vegetarian now, too! :)

Ruth Elkin said...

I've tried the cheese on half before and got the crazy argument of how i'd infected his side with "cheese grease" - better just making 2 separates to save arguments lol.

I'll be giving the leeks a go sometime though

MrOrph said...

Cott'age pie is a favorite in this house. I make a few variations of it along with Shepherds pie as well. One of the is very close to this dish.

Very tasty!

Roopa said...

Hi Ryan, your recipes and way of presentation looks so easy to understand, simple and delicious:) Thanks for sharing this. I have nver prepared any pie myself. Maybe I will try yours because you made it sound easy:)