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Cottage Pie

Updated: Jun 8, 2021

I love requests for the blog! This recipe is at the request of one of my cousins who was introducing his girlfriend to Cottage Pie for the first time. (Following a question recently: Cottage pie is made with beef, shepherd's pie with lamb. I like making it with pork too, which I guess is Swineherd's pie? Not sure what a chicken based one would be. Anyone?) No garlic in this one I am afraid as (shock, horror) I was out of garlic. Gasp! Normally I would have included about half a head. I use different veg every time. It depends on what is in on sale and what is in the fridge. Mushrooms and celery are also good, although not included in this particular one. I hadn't made a cottage pie in ages, and I don't think Little Bit had ever had it but it was a hit! Rich, moist and packed with flavour with a layer of creamy mash and melted cheese on top, it was perfect for a chilly March afternoon just above freezing with snow still on the ground.


1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

3 carrots, chopped

1/2 - 3/4 c chopped celeriac

1 leek, chopped

500 g (ish) of ground beef

1 /2 tsp baking soda

1 c (ish) of tomato passata

1/2 - 1 c red cooking wine

1 tsp thyme

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp rosemary

1/2 tsp sumac

2 c - or more, my layer was a little scanty - mashed potatoes (given my eternal supplies of whey these days I mixed mine up with whey and butter, but normally I use milk.)

100g/ 1/2 - 1 c cheese, diced (I used raclette aux herbes)

Salt and pepper to taste

1) Sprinkle the baking soda over the beef, mix it up well and leave it to sit while you start on other bits. The chemical reactions involved leave you with tenderer, juicier meat and without the puddle of grease.

2) Heat oil in a cast iron skillet (or a heavy frying pan). Sauté onions (and garlic if using) for a couple of minutes until just starting to soften then add in the carrot and celeriac. Allow these to cook for a few minutes, allowing some of the veg to brown a little.

3) Add the meat and mix thoroughly. Continue cooking until the meat has begun browning, then add the other ingredients except the mashed potato. Cook for about 5 more minutes, then taste test.

4) If you've cooked the meat mix in an iron skillet, then simply layer the potatoes over the top of the meat mix and scatter the diced cheese over the top. Place in a preheated oven at 200°C for 25-30 minutes, until the cheese is melty and bubbling and the meat juices have bubbled up.

I had not had cottage pie in the longest time and am so happy that I had a request for this! This recipe, like many others, never comes out the same way twice, and I feel that this batch was particularly good. As with other favourite dishes, it's a good fridge clearer dish, where almost any veg in the fridge can go in to make this more interesting and bulk it out.

Book Pairing: When I made this I was listening to Aldous Huxley's Crome Yellow (and took a trip out to see cows with Little Bit while it was in the oven). I really enjoyed the book, but it was not what I was expecting. Unlike the only other book of his that I have read, it was not futuristic and not a dystopia, just a little sad, a tale of unrequited love, (and strange characters) in a 1920s British manor house for the summer.

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