Cottage Pie Revisited

I love all things English and was excited to be assigned to Sarah’s Brit American Kitchen for this month’s Secret Recipe Club. It didn’t take me long to choose the Cottage Pie as it is one of my all time favorite pub dishes. Cottage pie ingredients vary in many homes and pubs, but basically, it’s a seasoned ground beef dish topped with mashed potatoes.

“Meat pies in England date back to the Middle Ages. The pies consisted of meat, either lamb or beef, but also game was used. Cooked for hours over a slow fire, the pies were seasoned with spices and served in pastry. The Elizabethans favored pies made of mince meat, spices, raisins and prunes, hence “mincemeat”.

Shepherd’s pie made with cold lamb or mutton and topped with mashed potatoes didn’t appear in England until the acceptance of potatoes in that country. Potatoes were introduced to Europe in the early 1500’s by the Spanish, but didn’t appeal to the English palate until the 18th century. A frugal dish designed to use up leftover meat, Shepherd’s Pie originated in the north of England and Scotland where there were large numbers of sheep.

Cottage Pie and Shepherd’s Pie are synonymously used to describe a dish made with minced meat and mashed potato topping, but to clarify the difference, Cottage Pie, the much older term for the pie, is made with minced beef and Shepherd’s Pie with minced lamb. Today, it doesn’t matter whether you call the pie Shepherd’s or Cottage. The most important thing is the pie tastes wonderful and is a hearty and satisfying dish for winter meals. A veritable blank canvas, what goes into the meat mixture for Cottage or Shepherd’s is up to the imagination and fancy of the cook.”

 photo CottagePie_zpsf1f0a72d.jpg

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Cottage Pie

3 tablespoons olive

2 pounds ground beef

2 onions, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped 

2 cloves garlic,minced

3 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 cup red wine

3 cups beef stock

4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Fresh thyme sprigs

2 bay leaves

Mashed potato topping

2 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced large

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

Freshly grated nutmeg, optional

Brown ground beef in batches, drain off fat and set aside. Heat the oil in the pan and add the vegetables. Cook on medium-low  heat until softened, about 20 minutes. Add the garlic, flour and tomato paste, increase the heat and cook for a few minutes. Return the browned beef to the pan. Pour in the red wine, boil slightly to reduce the wine, then add the stock, Worcestershire sauce, thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer; cook uncovered for 45 minutes. Discard bay leaves and thyme sticks.

To make the mashed potato topping. In a large saucepan, cover the potatoes in salted cold water, bring to a boil and simmer until tender. Drain well, mash with the butter, milk and three fourths of the cheddar cheese. Season with salt and pepper. If using the nutmeg, add a light sprinkle.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Place the beef mixture in a large oven proof casserole or 8 small casserole dishes. Spoon the mashed potato topping over and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly and mashed potatoes are lightly browned. 

A few photos of mine from Flickr


Please do not use images or text without my permission.



  1. Corey @ Learning Patience
    October 14, 2013 / 10:22 am

    Ok…this is TOO funny! I had you as my SRC person and I made Cottage Pie! LOL Hilarious… My hubby LOVED your recipe…thanks!xoxo from Trinidad

  2. Lynne Daley
    October 14, 2013 / 11:04 am

    Truly funny! Glad your husband liked it! It's one of our all time favorite dishes in the winter.

  3. Judee Algazi
    October 14, 2013 / 11:44 am

    Beautiful photos and presentation of the recipe. Looks delicious

  4. Heather S
    October 14, 2013 / 12:37 pm

    They look great! I should try to make a cottage pie and see if I can convert my husband. Great SRC choice!

  5. Anonymous
    October 14, 2013 / 1:55 pm

    I love cottage pie too but unfortunately my husband hates it so I rarely get to make it. Otherwise I would love to have a go at this.

  6. Danielle Miller
    October 14, 2013 / 1:57 pm

    Yum – these look fantastic – I love those dishes too!

  7. Miz Helen
    October 14, 2013 / 2:41 pm

    I just love your Cottage Pie, it looks delicious! Great choice for the SRC, have a fun day!Miz Helen

  8. Kate
    October 14, 2013 / 3:13 pm

    Mmmmm…comfort food! Great SRC selection.

  9. SeattleDee
    October 14, 2013 / 6:35 pm

    What a lovely mix of history, photography and tempting recipe.

  10. Jeanie
    October 14, 2013 / 6:45 pm

    Thanks for the reminder. I've been wanting to try a Shepherd's pie.

  11. shelley c.
    October 15, 2013 / 12:07 am

    I LOVE cottage pie and yours looks absolutely delicious. Now I kind of want to make this for dinner one night this week… great choice!

  12. Colleen Bauer
    October 15, 2013 / 1:51 am

    One of my favorites. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful recipe!

  13. Jennifer
    October 15, 2013 / 3:09 am

    I guess I've been making cottage pie all along =) I had no idea until I read your post. And your photos are gorgeous!(I missed the deadline to add my post to the party and have sent email to April to try and fix that, but here's my post)

  14. Lynne Daley
    October 15, 2013 / 11:43 am

    Thanks, Judy-have a great day!Heather, my husband loves this dish!Searching for spice-I understand-I don't make some of the dishes I love because of the husband not liking them.Danielle-thanks, I think I got them in England-not sure though!Miz Helen-thanks-have a great day, tooThanks, KateSeattle Dee-truly interesting history, I agreeJeanie-you will love the cottage pie, I'm sureshelley-I'm sure it will be a hit with your familyColleen-thanksJennifer-funny-the cottage pie has different names according to how it's received in your family.

  15. AM Nichols
    October 15, 2013 / 3:00 pm

    All this time I've been making Cottage Pie and not Shepard's Pie? (head hitting desk.) Well, now that I understand the difference (the shepard takes care of the sheep – duh) I'll call it by it's proper name.

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