Cottage Pie is a traditional British dish that is the ultimate comfort food. It can easily be made ahead of time and reheated. In fact, I generally have a Cottage Pie in my freezer for those evenings when I just want something easy and absolutely delicious.
From what I understand, the difference between Cottage Pie and Shepherd’s Pie is the meat that is used. Beef is used in Cottage Pie; lamb is used in Shepherd’s Pie. Since I’m not a fan of lamb, I’ve never made a Shepherd’s Pie.
Ingredients for Cottage Pie
For the meat sauce, I used the following ingredients: Ground beef, onion, carrot, green peas, chicken or beef broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, Bisto, salt and freshly ground pepper. Generally, I used low sodium chicken broth.
Making the Meat Mixture for the Cottage Pie
As a first step, I whisked together the chicken broth, Worcestershire Sauce, tomato paste, Dijon mustard and Bisto. Then, I set it aside for later use.
Even though I used a low fat ground beef (96/4), I drained the cooked ground beef in a colander and ran it under hot water until it rans clean. I know that I’m rinsing away beef flavor along with the fat. However, I’ve consistently found that it’s what you add to the ground beef that gives the dish its flavor.
While the meat was draining, I wiped the skillet with a paper towel to remove any remaining fat from the ground beef. Then, I added a small amount of olive oil to the skillet and added the onions and carrots.
I brought this to a boil, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickened. Then, I covered the pan and simmer the meat mixture for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the meat was tender and the carrots were well cooked. As a final step, I added the green peas. The reason that I wait until the end to add the green peas is that they don’t take nearly as long to cook as the other ingredients.
Making the Mashed Potatoes
While the meat mixture was cooking, I made the mashed potatoes. I used potatoes, unsalted butter, milk, shredded cheddar cheese, salt and pepper.
First, I cooked the potatoes in salted water for about 20 minutes until they were soft. Since I was going to pipe the mashed potatoes on top of the meat mixture, I wanted to ensure that there were no lumps. Therefore, I riced the cooked potatoes before adding the butter, cheese, milk and pepper.
Next, I beat the potato mixture with an electric mixer until everything was well incorporated.
After I transferred the meat mixture to an oven proof bowl, I enlisted Susan’s help in actually piping the potatoes. She filled a piping bag fitted with a large star tip with the potato mixture, and proceeded to pipe swirls on the meat mixture.
- 1 ½ cups beef or chicken broth
- 4 teaspoons Bisto
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil or unsalted butter
- 1 large onion chopped
- 3/4 cup carrots cut into small pieces
- 3/4 cup frozen green peas
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 pounds peeled and sliced Russet potatoes
- 1/2 Tablespoon salt
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- In a small bowl, combine beef or chicken broth, Bisto, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and Dijon mustard; stir with whisk until well blended. Set aside.
- Brown ground beef in a large non-stick skillet. Drain in a colander and rinse well with hot water to remove as much fat as possible. Wipe skillet with paper towel and place over medium heat.
- Heat olive oil or butter in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and carrot; cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add ground beef and beef broth mixture; cook over medium high heat until bubbly and thickened. Cover and continue cooking over medium low heat 45 minutes or until the meat is tender and the carrot is cooked. Spoon into a buttered casserole dish. Top meat mixture with mashed potatoes. May be prepared in advance up to this point.
Bake at 400º F for 20 to 25 minutes, or until potatoes are lightly browned and mixture is bubbly. Yield: 6 servings.
- Place potatoes and 1/2 Tablespoon salt in a large saucepan. Cover potatoes with water; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until potatoes are very soft, about 20 minutes; drain well in colander. Return potatoes to pan and heat over medium heat for several minutes to dry out. Process potatoes in ricer; butter and cheese. Mix well. Add milk; beat with an electric mixer until potatoes are smooth and creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Place potatoes in piping bag fitted with a large (1M) star tip. Pipe potatoes over meat mixture.