What is cottage pie?
Cottage Pie is perhaps the ultimate comfort food. You see, here in the UK, pies are normally savory concoctions. This recipe of cottage pie consists of stewed meat and vegetables topped with potatoes and baked in the oven.
Unlike its cousin Shepherd’s pie which is made with lamb mince, cottage pie is made with beef. The ‘cottage’ moniker refers to the place where the pies were frequently eaten, which was by rural workers who lived in cottages and relied on potatoes and other staples.
Pies are sweet in the US but savoury in the UK
Again, it is important to remember that in British cooking, anything labeled as a pie is most often savoury and typically meat-based. Shepherd’s pie, cottage pie, Scotch pie, pork pie, you name it – all are deliciously meaty. What sets this pie apart however is the lack of pastry.
Instead of coating it in a flaky crust, the stewed meat and vegetable combination is topped with potatoes that could be either mashed or thinly sliced and layered on top.
You have the choice on whether or not to top it with cheese, but my rule is to never say no to melted cheese. In fact, the more the better.
Eat now or freeze for later
What’s great about this pie recipe is that it can feed an army. It’s hearty and well-balanced with a nice mixture of protein, vegetables and carbs.
I usually make 2 pies when I make this recipe, one for that night and one assembled then frozen for a later meal. If you have a lot of people to feed, make one large pie. If not, package up whatever you don’t use and freeze it. You’ll need glad you did it, especially after a long and tiring day.
Comforting Cottage Pie with Cheese and Onion
- Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
- Yield: Serves 5-6 1x
Cottage pie made with beef & vegetables stewed in beer and fresh herbs. Topped with buttery mashed potatoes and a delicious crust of melted cheddar cheese & onion. #familydinners #recipe #British #beer #beef #comfortfood
500 g (~18 oz) beef mince
2 medium onions (1 is minced, 1 is grated)
3 celery stalks (~1/2 cup chopped)
1 large carrot (~1/2 cup chopped)
1 cup frozen peas
1 tbsp flour
3 cloves of garlic (minced)
8 oz / 240 ml dark beer
8 oz / 240 ml beef stock
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 bushy sprigs of fresh thyme
1–2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary
200 g (~7 oz) potatoes
6 tbsp of butter (cubed)
4 oz / 120 ml of milk
150–175 g of mature cheddar cheese (this depends on the surface area of your casserole dish and how cheesy you like it)
Brown beef mince in a pan over medium-high heat. Remove meat with a slotted spoon from the pan and set it aside on a plate nearby. Pour remaining grease into a bowl. You’ll need a spoonful or two of it for later when you are sauteing the vegetables.
Take 2-3 tbsp of beef grease and place in a pan over medium heat. When hot, add 1 chopped onion, chopped celery and chopped carrot. Saute together until soft. This should take around 5-7 minutes.
When vegetables are softened, add drained browned beef, peas, fresh thyme and fresh rosemary. Turn heat to medium-high and cook for a minute or two then sprinkle 1 tbsp of flour over the beef and vegetable mixture. Let cook for a minute or two.
Next, add beer, beef stock, tomato paste and minced garlic. Stir together and bring to a boil over high heat. Once, at a boil reduce heat to low then cover and simmer for 20 minutes. After simmering, taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. The mixture should be beautifully glossy with all the flavors melded together to make a delicious filling.
While the beef and vegetable mixture is stewing, work on the potatoes. Peel and boil potatoes until cooked through. Drain potatoes from the water and allow to steam dry for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile, put the empty potato pot back on the stove burner and allow it to get hot. Don’t turn on the stove, just place the pot back where you originally had it. The goal is for the pot to get hot so that when the drained potatoes are added to it, it further dehydrates the potatoes forcing them to soak up all that butter. Place the drained potatoes in the hot pot and let them sit there for a moment or two. Add cubes of butter to potatoes and mash together. Once all mashed, add milk and stir together until smooth. Taste and season with sea salt and pepper to your liking.
Time to assemble the pie!
Pour the beef and vegetable filling into the bottom of a casserole dish or baking tray. Using a spoon or piping bag, cover with mashed potatoes. Spreading the mashed potatoes in an even layer with a spoon can be a little tricky, so if you want to make it easier and look pretty, fill up a piping bag with mashed potatoes and use that.
For the topping, grate 1 onion with shredded cheese and toss together until everything is evenly combined. If you think grating an onion is too time-consuming and tear-inducing, simply just pulse it a couple of times in a food processor and toss with the grated cheese.
Finally, top the cottage pie with the cheese and onion mix. You can add as much as you like or give it a light sprinkling if you are wary of dairy.
Bake in the oven for 40 min at 200C (400 F) or 180 C (350 F)with fan. Remove cover halfway through and allow to brown on top. Let sit for 10-15 minutes before diving into it.
- Prep Time: 40 min
- Cook Time: 40 min
- Category: Main, Beef, Casserole
- Method: Simmering, Baking
- Cuisine: Western
Keywords: cottage pie, British, recipe, family friendly, budget friendly, dinner, freezer friendly, beef, beer, vegetables, peas, rosemary, thyme, mashed potatoes, potatoes, cheese, onion
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