Cottage Pie

Jan 11, 2011 by

It is a popularly held belief that the British cannot cook. Whenever I mention British food amongst my most favored cuisines, I often have to smile threw the smirks and sarcasm that follow.

Having just returned from the U.K, I was reminded of just how delicious a meal without frill or fringe could be. Upon my return to NY, I wanted to celebrate these modest meals. Pantry ingredients and accessible cooking techniques were a reminder of simple pleasures.

Meat and 2 vegetables, bangers and mash, and cottage pie were a few of my culinary revisits from the trip. Today I’d like to share the recipe for cottage pie. Could a dish be more perfectly named? No bells, no whistles, just ‘cottage’. Warm buttered mash potatoes spread over braised ground meat and vegetables.

Recreate this dish in the environment it was conceived in by making it on a drizzly and damp day.


Meat Filling

2lbs ground beef
1 large carrot, diced into medium sized pieces
2 diced celery sticks
2 medium sized diced onions
2 cloves of minced garlic
½ cup of white wine
1 teaspoon of thyme
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
1 tablespoon of flour

Mashed Potatoes

7 large Yukon potatoes
¼ cup of milk
2oz of butter
1 tsp mustard
1 beaten egg


Meat Filling

1. Saute the onions and garlic until soft (but not brown)
2. Add the ground beef and break it up with a spoon
3. Once the beef has browned, add the carrots, celery and wine and cook for about 10 minutes, until the carrot begins to soften
4. Season with salt, pepper and thyme
5. Mix the flour with 8oz of water and tomato puree, carefully removing any lumps
6. Add to the beef, using the liquid to scrape off the braised beef that has stuck to the bottom of the pan
7. Cook until the sauce thickens (approx 7 minutes)

Mashed Potatoes

1. Take a large pan and fill with salted water. Bring to high heat
2. When the water comes to a boil, add the potatoes
3. Cook until tender and discard the water.
4. Mash the potatoes with a pimch of salt, butter, milk and mustard powder


1. Grease an oven proof dish and pour in the meat filling
2. Spread the mashed potatoes over the top
3. Take a fork and make prodding marks over the potatoes so that it makes small and sharp peaks
4. Beat an egg and lightly brush over the potatoes to make a glaze

Pearls of Wisdom

1. Don’t cut the carrots too small. We are creating the ‘cottage’ look and not ‘modern minimalist’. This will add character and make for a more full bodied filling
2. Don’t skip the ‘brushing the egg’ step. This creates a tiny crispy film over the top of the pie
3. By scraping lines over the potatoes, you get beautiful golden ridges when the pie bakes in the oven

Serving Suggestions

At the very most, serve with a green salad

Related Posts


Share This


  1. Anonymous

    Well let me start by saying that I love a well prepared shepards pie aka cottage pie. It has all my favorite ingredients. Saira as I mentioned to you when I ate this at your place the other day… it was just delicious, so much so that I binged! The aftermath of overstuffing myself and going into food coma was all worth it. Having eaten shepards pie before, I have to say that this was by far one of the best (also because it was made with ground beef and not chicken or turkey or lamb). The ground meat was perfectly seasoned and the potatoes were firm but with a creamy texture. I simply enjoyed it. You can count me in for the next trial… whatever it is. Rohit

  2. Anonymous

    Hi Saira… what memories! I make it kind of the same, but I have some variations perhaps worth of trying them in the future, … instead of celery (which some people can't digest properly) I add leeks (also with great results) and sometimes instead of egg I add a good layer of Cheddar cheese… kids love it! Peas are also an alternative when kids need more veggies … have fun and keep posting! If I had more time I would also love to have a cooking blog! Warm regards, Carmen

  3. Saira

    Hi Carmen, thank you for your feedback. I think leeks are a fantastic idea and I can't wait to try that as leeks provide a rich aroma to any thing, from soup to pot pie!! Thank you for sharing such an interesting spin on the dish.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>