Classic British cottage pie

Apr 22, 2014 at 11:56 p.m. ET

A British classic for those days when you just need some comfort food.

Classic British Cottage Pie

Classic British cottage pie

This classic potato-topped pie is a great way to sneak some veggies into the kids without the dinnertime dramas. It can be made the day before and refrigerated for finishing off in the oven the next day. The quantities of vegetables can be increased if you like, and add some more herbs if you feel like it; it will only improve the flavor.


  • 1 pound minced/ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon oil or butter
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  • 8 medium-sized mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 (14 ounce) can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 beef stock cube dissolved in 1/2 pint hot water
  • Small handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1-1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 4 or 8 even pieces depending on size
  • 1/2 ounce butter
  • 2 fluid ounces milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, grated


  1. Preheat the oven to 360 degrees F, 180 degrees C.
  2. Heat the oil or butter in a large heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Gently fry the onion, carrot, mushrooms and garlic until soft and translucent.
  3. Add the beef and fry until it starts to get some color. Be sure to break it up with your wooden spoon or spatula as you stir or you will have lumps.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, stock and Worcestershire sauce and cook over a low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
  5. While the beef mixture is cooking, put the potatoes in a pan with plenty of water, bring to a boil and cook for about 20 minutes or until tender.
  6. Drain the potatoes and mash them well. Add the egg, butter and milk and mix well. Don't beat the potato mixture too much or it will become glutinous.
  7. When the beef is tender, transfer to a shallow ovenproof dish. Spread it out nicely in the bottom. I like to give it a few minutes to settle before I cover with the mashed potato.
  8. Cover evenly with the mashed potato. Use a fork to rough it up a bit on the top; this will give a little crispiness to the topping. Sprinkle with the grated cheese.
  9. The pie can be refrigerated at this stage for heating up the next day.
  10. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes until the top is golden.