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Cottage Pie aka Shepherd’s Pie

by Spicie Foodie on January 9, 2013

Cottage Pie aka Shepherd's Pie by Spicie Foodie

The first time I tasted shepherd’s pie was in an old Scottish pub back in the states. I’m not sure how long the restaurant has existed, or if it still does, but the building was an old brown stone common to many older American cities. The place was small, dimly light, rustic yet very cozy and relaxed. Their single malt Scotch and British ale selection was among the best in the city. From the first visit I was hooked both on the excellent British Isles fare and the atmosphere. It became one of my favorite restaurants to go to.

Cottage Pie aka Shepherd's Pie by Spicie Foodie

That restaurant is in fact where I tried my first dishes from English, Scottish and Irish cuisine. I fell in love with the simple elements and ingredients of all three cuisines. I loved it all -the pies, root vegetables, salads, soups and fish dishes. After we moved to Europe I missed the restaurant but other local pubs quickly took its place. In Europe there is no shortage of British pubs and then of course the Isles are a short plane hop away.

Cottage Pie aka Shepherd's Pie by Spicie Foodie

Let me step back away from my memories and tell you a bit more about Shepherd’s pie. This “pie” is basically minced (ground) meat, usually mixed with a couple of spices and vegetables, topped with mashed potatoes and baked. Traditionally Shepherd’s pie was made with leftover mutton or lamb and vegetables. A different version using minced beef became know as cottage pie. According to some sources the cottage pie also differed in that sliced potatoes were used for the topping in lieu of mashed. The slices then gave the pie a similar look to that of shingles on a cottage and hence the name. Nowadays many people also use mashed potatoes for cottage pie -you could say it’s a matter of personal choice.

The modest ingredients are quite evident of the dish being a humble and stable food for peasant families back in the day. But trust me what this dish lacks in extravagant ingredients it more than makes up for in taste. It is one of my favorite foods to eat and to cook. You may in fact already have all of the ingredients in your pantry and refrigerator. The effort is minimal and it is a great dish to experiment with and adjust to your particular cravings. Okay, let me share my simple recipe with you.

Cottage Pie aka Shepherd's Pie by Spicie Foodie

4.7 from 7 reviews
Cottage Pie (aka Shepherd's Pie)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Cottage pie, also know as Shepherd's pie, is an easy meal made with minced beef and topped with mashed potatoes before baking. A great meal for the whole family.
Author:
Recipe type: Beef, Baked, Casserole
Cuisine: English, British, Irish, Scottish
Serves: 4
Ingredients
Meat Filling Ingredients:
  • 500 g or 1 lb. minced beef
  • 1 large (200 g or 1.75 cups) cubed carrot
  • 1 medium (100 g or 3.5 oz) finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1.5-2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp. tomato puree
  • 1 tsp. worcester/Worcestershire sauce
  • 250 ml or 1 cup beef broth (low-sodium & no MSG)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp salt, adjust to taste
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. flour to thicken
Mashed Potato Topping:
  • 500 g or 1 lb starchy potatoes, peeled & evenly cut
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 80 ml or ⅓ cup whole fat milk
  • salt to taste
Side Dish
  • peas
Instructions
  1. Boil the potatoes in salted water, once fork tender drain. Add the butter, half the milk and some salt and begin mashing. Continue mashing and adding more milk until you achieve the consistency desired. Set potatoes aside.
  2. Preaheat 220c or 428f and have a baking dish ready. Heat the oil, saute the onions for 3 minutes then add the carrots. Cook for 5 minutes or until they begin to soften. Add the minced beef and cook for about 8 minutes. Drain all excess fat, and add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Mix in the tomato puree, worchester sauce, beef broth, flour, salt, ground black pepper, thyme and bay leaf. Cook until nearly all of the liquid has been absorbed.
  3. Pour the minced beef mixture into the pan, even out into an even surface and depth. Next spread the mashed potatoes over the meat making sure to achieve an even depth and surface. Bake in center of oven for 20 minutes, then place under the broiler setting for 5 minutes to brown the potatoes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving with green peas on the side.
Notes
Instead of baking in one large baking dish you can bake in small individual ones. And for a fun pattern use a fork to spread the potatoes on top of the meat before baking.

Cottage Pie aka Shepherd's Pie by Spicie Foodie

Shepherd’s and Cottage pies are some of my comfort foods. They remind me of the restaurant and of course always satisfy my belly. It is a great meal that your family will love. I also think it is a dish you’ll want to make over and over again. Enjoy!

Cottage Pie aka Shepherd's Pie by Spicie Foodie

Check out these other shepherd’s and cottage pie recipes from foodie friends.
- Shepherd’s Pie, New Mexico Style by MJ’s Kitchen
- Vegan Shepherds Pie by Feasting At Home
- Chicken Cottage Pie with 3-Vegetable Mash by Simply Delicious
- Jameson Shepherd’s Pie with Purple Potatoes by Our Lady of Second Helpings

 

Yummy Pics: A Food Blogger's Guide to Better Photos, Photography eBook by Spicie Foodie

 

in Beef,European,For Him

{ 57 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Phong Hong January 9, 2013 at 11:47 AM

Yummeh! It sounds so simple yet looks so delicious. Great idea to bake it in individual servings, saves the hassle of slicing and portioning. Nancy, I think I will love your shepherd’s pie. The one I tasted at a hotel last year had too much cream or cheese in it and that put me off. I noted yours does not contain these 2 ingredients. Yay!

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2 Spicie Foodie January 9, 2013 at 3:04 PM

Really? I don’t think I’ve ever tasted one with cream. I have to admit that it doesn’t sound very good to me. Thanks Phong and I hope you can give it a try soon. :)

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3 Rosa January 9, 2013 at 12:55 PM

Your cottage pie looks amazing! That is a comforting speciality I adore. Now, I’m hungry!

Cheers,

Rosa

P.S. When this dish is made with beef, then it is called “Cottage Pie”, but if lamb is employed, then it is called “Shepherd’s Pie”… ;-P

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4 Spicie Foodie January 9, 2013 at 3:07 PM

Hi Rosa,

Yes, I am aware of the differences. Actually if you read the third paragraph that is where I mentioned the differences. Thanks!

Comfort food all the way!:)

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5 Alyssa (Everyday Maven) January 9, 2013 at 4:28 PM

My husband loves this dish and I never make it. This version looks really good – I have to make this for him while it’s still rainy and cold, he would love it! Thanks :)

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6 Spicie Foodie January 9, 2013 at 4:30 PM

My husband also loves the dish Alyssa. I hope you do get a chance to make it for yours soon.

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7 mjskit January 9, 2013 at 4:52 PM

Now that I’ve actually had Shepherd’s/Cottage pie I can imagine the feeling of eating this dish in an old Scottish pub with a pint of beer. YUM! I wasn’t aware of where the name cottage came from – the slice potatoes that resembled shingles. I love that! Your pie looks SO good! I can smell it and taste it from your pics. When I made this pie the first time my husband was assisting with the pics. Once I scooped out a serving, he tasted it and couldn’t stop eating. He had eaten a whole serving before we even put it on the table for supper. :) Thanks so much for the shout out! I need to go check out the other versions. Have a great day!

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8 Spicie Foodie January 9, 2013 at 5:34 PM

Hi MJ! I think this dish is one that men always love. My husband is the same way. My pleasure and you know I loved your version. You too have a great Wednesday!

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9 Victoria of Flavors of the Sun January 9, 2013 at 5:22 PM

My son once even announced on television that Shepherd’s Pie was his favorite food. Now that he returned home a vegetarian, like his father, I have to reinvent the wheel! Actually, I do have a vegetarian version I have made for years, but it doesn’t compare to this mouth-watering version!

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10 Spicie Foodie January 9, 2013 at 5:35 PM

I would love to see your vegetarian version Victoria. Thanks :)

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11 Rose January 9, 2013 at 5:41 PM

Nice post! Your individual servings are lovely. Thanks for the shout out. Cheers!

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12 Spicie Foodie January 11, 2013 at 12:57 AM

Thank you Rose and its my pleasure!

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13 Laura (Tutti Dolci) January 9, 2013 at 6:04 PM

I’ve never had cottage pie but this looks like a comforting meal to dig into while sitting in front of the fire. I love the broiled potato topping!

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14 Spicie Foodie January 11, 2013 at 12:57 AM

You should try it Laura as it is a perfect meal for that. Thanks!

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15 Marta @ What should I eat for breakfast today January 9, 2013 at 6:33 PM

It sounds and look amazing. I remember that when I was living in Sydney people were crazy about pies. And I was as well. I’mm make this cottage pie as a small trip back :)

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16 Spicie Foodie January 11, 2013 at 12:57 AM

Yeah I’ve heard that about Sydney. Now I just need to go and try some;)

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17 Evelyne@cheapethniceatz January 9, 2013 at 7:26 PM

Oh boy we could start a debate lol. This is a classic Quebec comfort food too but we do it with ground beef, corn and mashed potatoes…that is it. Peas and carrots have no place for us in this recipe. And the best is the French name is Pâté Chinois which translate to Chinese Pate…because historically that is what they fed the Chinese railroad workers. No Chinese cuisine connections at all.

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18 Spicie Foodie January 11, 2013 at 1:00 AM

Hi Evelyne,
I had no idea about the Pâté Chinois. In France it is called Hachis Parmentier and I never ate one with corn -then again corn isn’t a staple on this side of the world. But that is why it is such a great dish because everyone can transform it into their own. Thanks:)

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19 The Travelling Chopsticks January 9, 2013 at 7:26 PM

I have been thinking of making cottage or shepherd pie for ages – but for some reason have never got around to it! But this is my motivation – your pictures look fantastic :)

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20 Spicie Foodie January 11, 2013 at 1:00 AM

Gracias Alex and I hope you do try it soon! :)

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21 Ramona January 9, 2013 at 7:36 PM

One of my favorite comfort foods. :)

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22 Spicie Foodie January 11, 2013 at 1:01 AM

We have so much in common Ramona:)

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23 MaryMoh January 9, 2013 at 9:14 PM

My children loves shepherd pie. But it’s a long time I have not cooked it. Wonder how I have forgotten about it…..hmmm. Must cook again someday. Yours look very delicious. I like that you make into individual portions. I must try that too instead of one big dish. Thanks very much for sharing.

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24 Spicie Foodie January 11, 2013 at 1:01 AM

Thank you Mary and I’d love to see your version.

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25 Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen January 9, 2013 at 10:46 PM

Hearty comfort food like this is perfect for the cold weather months.

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26 Spicie Foodie January 11, 2013 at 1:01 AM

Absolutely! Thanks Sylvie

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27 Vijitha January 10, 2013 at 1:23 AM

Your cottage pie looks so good. So creamy, warm and perfect for this season.

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28 Spicie Foodie January 11, 2013 at 1:01 AM

Thank you Vijitha!

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29 Suzanne Perazzini January 10, 2013 at 1:48 AM

Shepherd’s pie has always been a great staple meal in New Zealand and, in fact, we had it last night for dinner and I brought some leftovers to work for lunch. The flavours are even better the next day.

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30 Spicie Foodie January 11, 2013 at 1:02 AM

Really? Aw great minds Suzanne;) I’d love to see your recipe and give it a try.

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31 Hannah January 10, 2013 at 2:17 AM

Had a little chuckle at “worchester” sauce – it’s actually Worcester, said like wooster :) thanks for the recipe x

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32 Spicie Foodie January 11, 2013 at 1:05 AM

Haha, I always do that with the spelling. It’s the whole Worcestershire sauce name that always has me throwing in an h in there. English is my second language and it really shows sometimes:)

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33 Liz January 10, 2013 at 3:26 AM

It’s been years since I’ve made a shepherd’s pie…and hubby loves them! I must try your individual servings…you styled them perfectly!!!

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34 Spicie Foodie January 11, 2013 at 1:07 AM

Thanks Lizzy! I don’t know what it is about this dish but men always love it.

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35 john@kitchenriffs January 10, 2013 at 3:31 AM

I haven’t had a cottage (or shepherd’s!) pie in ages! And it’s such a great dish for this time of the year, when it still gets dark and gloomy early, and it’s cold, and I want something really warm for dinner. Super recipe and photos – thanks so much.

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36 Spicie Foodie January 11, 2013 at 1:07 AM

Thanks John! Yep cottage/shepherd’s pie is perfect for those days.

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37 Donna Evans January 10, 2013 at 9:06 AM

Hi Nancy;

Just read your version of Cottage Pie, and it sounds very similar to mine. I made my version last weekend and my son-in-law to-be couldn’t get enough of it. I tend to make any type of stew-dish with all the veg in the fridge, so this version had peppers (red and yellow sweet), sweet potato, carrot, onion, celery, mushrooms, and lentils (I only had 1 lb of beef and didn’t want to skimp on the protein). I used rosemary, thyme, and a few other spices as well as Worcestershire sauce. I put all the veg into the food processor and blitzed, much easier and quicker than chopping all those veggies. What I got was the thickest and tastiest pie that we have ever had, the potato topping was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. I think I will have to make it again real soon.

Happy Cooking
Donna

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38 Spicie Foodie January 11, 2013 at 1:08 AM

Hi Donna,
Your version sounds excellent! Thanks for sharing and I’ll have to give it a try soon. You too happy cooking:)

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39 Ala January 10, 2013 at 9:56 AM

What a wonderful, nostalgic blast to the past–I’ve been reading Scottish and Irish historical novels from the 18th-century lately, and it would be so cool to make this recipe to nibble on while reading. Thank you for sharing this! I’d love to have a local restaurant I could go to to get warm, comforting British dishes.

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40 Spicie Foodie January 11, 2013 at 1:09 AM

Thanks Ala, enjoy your cottage pie with your book. That sounds like a wonderful idea and I may have to make another this weekend. :)

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41 RavieNomNoms January 10, 2013 at 10:15 PM

This sounds so comforting. I love meals that are like this…they just sound so perfect for these cold days!

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42 Spicie Foodie January 11, 2013 at 1:11 AM

Thanks Ravie and me too:)

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43 Faith January 11, 2013 at 3:30 AM

I have always loved the sound of Cottage Pie along with the cozy image that the name conjures up. Your description of that pub is fantastic…I have yet to find a place like that in my area, but I’ve been looking! Until I do, I know I will have to make this beauty. :)

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44 Spicie Foodie January 11, 2013 at 2:22 PM

I hope you find one soon Faith. They can quickly become favorite restaurants and watering holes. Thanks:)

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45 yummychunklet January 11, 2013 at 4:59 AM

I love the look of the swirl of the crusty baked potato!

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46 Spicie Foodie January 11, 2013 at 2:22 PM

Thanks, my hubby does too:)

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47 anna January 11, 2013 at 5:33 AM

mmm such a classic dish. and love the scorched top!

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48 Spicie Foodie January 11, 2013 at 2:23 PM

Thanks Anna!

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49 Moira January 12, 2013 at 1:53 AM

Cottage pie is indeed delicious but Shepherds pie is traditionally made with minced lamb instead of beef which gives it an entirely different flavour.

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50 Spicie Foodie January 12, 2013 at 4:56 PM

Yep, I mentioned that in the third paragraph. I love them both:)

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51 Nami | Just One Cookbook January 14, 2013 at 8:42 AM

I’m totally going for this recipe because of your thick mashed potato topping. :D It has nice char and so inviting. I want a big spoon right now and enjoy a whole bowl!

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52 Spicie Foodie January 16, 2013 at 9:12 PM

It is really simple to make and perfect for days when you don’t want to put too much effort into dinner. Thanks!

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53 Magic of Spice January 27, 2013 at 11:19 PM

This looks wonderful and I bet delicious! I have thought of trying out a vegetarian version, now I am inspired :)

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54 Kristen February 5, 2013 at 1:40 AM

Your recipe looks fantastic! I am trying it tonight using Bison (Buffalo) but we don’t have buffalo here in America available commercially they are technically bison! They are a leaner healthier version of beef. So, I guess I am making American cottage pie?
Cheers!

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55 Spicie Foodie February 6, 2013 at 10:42 PM

That sounds delicious Kristen. Enjoy and let me know how it turns out.

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56 Rachel December 8, 2013 at 12:34 PM

So, how long did it take you to cook the stew until most of the liquid had been absorbed? I tried cooking it for about 30 minutes, and adding more flour, but there was still a ton of liquid. Maybe 10% had been absorbed, but that was it.

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57 Spicie Foodie December 8, 2013 at 1:21 PM

Hi Rachel,

Did you have the lid on the pan? Try cooking without the lid and turn up the heat a bit to allow more evaporation. It usually takes me anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes for nearly all of the liquid to be absorbed — I’ve had to add a bit more broth at times.

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