Hearty Cottage Pie

Hearty Cottage Pie

I commonly call this dish ‘shepherd’s pie‘ … but in truth it is actually a cottage pie. What’s the difference? The only difference is that a cottage pie is made from beef mince and a shepherd’s pie is made from lamb mince (pretty obvious now right?). The rest of the dish is the same … is your mind blown yet?

There are so many difference variations of cottage pies and shepherd’s pies and with all recipes the ingredients and methods are different.

I like my cottage pie, it is rich in flavour, saucy with plenty of fluffy mashed potatoes. It is a family favourite … comfort food at its best, served it with some steamed greens and family!

Here is how I made my awesome cottage pie.

Get your ingredients ready …

Main Ingredients
Get your ingredients ready

In my recipe I have included mushrooms which my daughter loves. You can omit this and add peas or diced carrots if you prefer. This recipe is adaptable so feel free to try other ingredients.

Firstly, prepare the vegetables … dice the onions and finely mince the garlic. Slice a couple of slices of ginger and slice the mushrooms. In a large pan, fry the onions and ginger then add the bay leaves – fry the onions until they are nicely browned. Add the garlic and mushrooms and continue to cook until the mushrooms have softened.

Fry the onions, garlic, ginger and mushrooms in a pan with the bay leaves

Once these ingredients have cooked, remove them from the pan onto a plate and set aside.

Now brown the mince beef in the same pan.

Brown the mince and add the rest of the ingredients

Once the minced beef has browned, add the onion and mushroom mixture. Stir until all the ingredients are combined. In the middle of the mixture, make a well then add the red wine. Turn the heat up and cook the wine for a few minutes. We are looking to reduce the red wine … whilst the wine is reducing, add the Worcestershire sauce, paprika, tomato paste and a generous amount of salt and pepper.

Once the wine has reduced by about half, give the mixture a stir. Mix well then add the beef stock to the pan. Bring the pan to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook (with the lid on) for about half an hour.

In the meantime, cook the mashed potatoes (this will be a good time to preheat your oven – gas mark 7 or 220°C / 425°F).

Boil you potatoes until soft

Chop the potatoes into small chunks, then boil the potatoes in some boiling water until soft.

Mash the potatoes with some cheese, butter, cream and seasoning

Once the potatoes have boiled, place them into a large mixing bowl – add the butter, cream and grated cheese. Use a potato masher and give the potatoes a good mash. I don’t mind some little lumps in my mashed potatoes, but you can put the potatoes through a ricer if you want a lump free mash. You are aiming for mashed potatoes that are smooth and creamy. Season well and set aside.

Back to the minced beef mixture that has been bubbling away for about half an hour. The sauce in the pan will be slightly thin, it can be left as it is and still taste wonderful, but let’s thicken this sauce up!

There are a couple of ways of thickening the cottage pie sauce up a little. Cornflour is a common way to thicken up sauces – just mix a little water with some cornflour and add this to the mixture.

I prefer to use a roux to thicken up sauces such as those in cottage pies. It’s super simple to do and adds an extra richness and flavour to the sauce.

Prepare your roux

In a bowl add equal amounts of plain flour and softened butter. Mix well until it becomes a paste (consistency will be like a soft buttercream).

Add the roux to the sauce

Add about 3 spoonfuls of the roux to the mixture. Pop the lid back on the pan and let it simmer for a couple of minutes. This will give time for the roux to soften and melt. After a couple of minutes, lift the lid and give the mixture a stir. The roux will have melted into the sauce and you will see it thicken.

The thickness of the mixture is entirely up to you, you can add another spoonful if needed … you won’t need all of the roux you have made. Taste the meat mixture and adjust the seasoning if needed. Give it a final stir then transfer the mixture to a baking tray.

Spread the mashed potato over the meat mixture. Top with some grated cheese

Spread the mashed potato evenly on top of the meat mixture. You can use a fork to make lines through the mashed potato if you’re feeling fancy. I prefer the rustic look so I just like to leave it as it is. Sprinkle with a handful of cheddar cheese then pop into the oven for about half an hour at gas mark 7 or 220°C / 425°F. You want the top to be nicely browned and you will see some of the sauce bubbling up from the sides.

Bake in the oven until the top has browned and the sauce is bubbling

How gorgeous does this look? The cheese helps the top of the cottage pie brown and I just love it when the sauce bubbles up from the corners. That is the sign of a great cottage pie.

Serve with steamed greens

My daughter loves this cottage pie and will always go for seconds. It tastes great served with some fried or steamed vegetables.

See below for the printable recipe.

Cottage Pie

– 1 large onion (chopped)
– 4 garlic cloves (minced)
– 750g minced beef
– 500ml beef stock
– 200ml red wine
– 2 tbsp tomato puree
– 2 bay leaves
– 1 tsp paprika
– 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
– Handful mushrooms (optional)
– Handful peas (optional)
– Carrots (diced)
– Salt and pepper to taste

For the roux:
– 50g butter (softened)
– 50g plain flour

For the mashed potatoes:
– 1kg of potatoes
– 25g butter
– 100ml double cream
– 50g grated cheddar cheese (plus extra for topping)
– Salt and pepper to taste

1. Fry onions, bay leaves and garlic until browned and softened. Add the mushrooms and peas and carrots (if using). Once cooked, set aside on a plate. Fry the beef in the same pan until browned. Once the beef has browned add the onion and mushroom mixture. Mix well.
2. Make a well in the middle of the meat mixture and add the red wine. Do not stir at this point, let it simmer for a few minutes until reduced by half.
3. Whilst the red wine is reducing, add the tomato puree, paprika and Worcestershire sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Once the red wine has reduced, mix all the ingredients well.
4. Add the beef stock and mix well. Place the lid on the pan and simmer for half an hour on a low heat.
5. After half and hour, make a roux by mixing equal amounts of softened butter and plain flour. Mix until it resembles a smooth paste.
6. Add 3 tablespoons of the roux to the cottage pie meat mix. Cover the pan with the lid and allow it to simmer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes the roux should have melted. Mix well into the rest of meat mixture.
7. If the mixture still is not thick enough, you can add another 1 or 2 tablespoons of roux. Turn off the heat and set the pan aside whilst you make the mashed potatoes.
8. At this point you can preheat your oven to gas mark 7 or 220°C / 425°F.
9. For the mashed potatoes, peel and chop the potatoes then boil them for a few minutes in boiling water. You wanted the potatoes to be really soft.
10. Drain the water from the potatoes and place them in a big bowl. Add the butter, cheese and cream with a little salt and pepper then mash it together with a potato masher (you can put it through a ricer if you want a smoother mash).
11. Transfer the meat mixture from your pan to a baking dish. Use a couple of spoons to scoop the mashed potatoes on top of the meat mixture. You can use the back of the spoon to smoothen it all out.
12. Finally sprinkle on some extra grated cheese and then pop the cottage pie in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until the top is brown and bubbling from the cheese.
13. Serve with steamed vegetables or whatever you fancy!


I hope you enjoy making this hearty cottage pie.

Head over to my Instagram page where you can see what I have been up to in my kitchen. Don’t forget to hit that follow button below to get alerts on new blog posts and leave me a comment to let me know you popped by. I love receiving mail!

~ Boss Mum xx

Published by The Boss Mum

Mother, cook and cake making addict ... life is better with a slice of cake or three. Follow me on my journey of sweet treats, food and adventures.

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