Cottage Pie

For some reason we still call it shepherd’s pie in this house. I don’t why, but we do.

For those of you that are saying, “what’s the difference?”, I’ll tell you now.

To my knowledge, shepherd’s pie is traditionally lamb mince with only onion under the mash; cottage pie however, is beef mince with onion and other vegetables, most frequently carrots and peas.

We generally use a selection of whatever veg we have in. For the mash, if we have them, we will mix sweet potato and parsnip into the mash potato too. If you have children that may be a little fussy, it’s a great way of sneaking the veg into them!

Here’s how to make my cottage pie, which serves 6-8 (only 6 if your family is like mine!!!)

Items you’ll need

  • Chopping board and sharp knife
  • Pan for spuds
  • Pan for the pie (if you don’t have a pan that goes from hob to oven, then use a normal large pan for the sauce, then transfer it to an ovenproof casserole dish when cooked.
  • Wooden spoon
  • Masher
  • Serving spoon
  • Colander (for draining the spuds if you can’t use the lid)


  • A few more potatoes than you do for your family normally (I use around 8 large spuds)
  • An onion – chopped
  • Selection of veg, chopped small. (I used mushrooms, carrots, green peppers)
  • 2 beef oxo
  • Dash brown sauce
  • Dash Worcester sauce
  • Mixed herbs
  • Water
  • Butter (or whatever you normally use to mash your potatoes)
  • Teaspoon Cornflour mixed with a little water.
  • Cheese (if desired)

How we will make it

Peel and chop the spuds into a pan of water. Try to make the pieces around the same size so they cook evenly. Put the lid on and boil them up. They should take around 25-30 minutes. Test them periodically by inserting a fork into them. If it goes in easy, they’re cooked.

While the spuds cook, make the mince sauce.

First chop up the veg small.

Then, put your mince into the pan. There’s no need for oil when you cook mince as there’s enough fat in it already. Try and get a good quality mince so you don’t need to drain the oil off. The better the quality the less fat.

Add some salt and pepper and cook the mince until it’s all browned.

Once the mince is browned, add in the chopped vegetables and stir fry for 2-3 minutes

Then add the condiments (oxo, brown sauce, Worcester sauce, mixed herbs)

Stir for a moment before adding water. Add sufficient water to just cover the mince.

Leave to simmer for around 10 minutes.

The potatoes should be cooked at this stage. Once they’re cooked, drain the water off and mash them the way you normally have them. We usually use just salt and butter, but this is down to personal preference.

Once you have mashed the potatoes, set aside while you thicken the mince sauce.

To thicken the sauce, mix the cornflour with a little water if you haven’t done it already, and pour it in to the mince, stirring quickly to avoid it going lumpy.

You don’t want the gravy too runny because the potatoes will fall into it when it cooks in the oven. If you have too much gravy, this can be strained off into a pan and used on top of the pie once served up.

Now it’s time to add your mash. Using the serving spoon, layer the potatoes onto your mince.

Using a fork, even out the mash potato.

Add grated cheese on top if desired.

If you’re preparing this in the morning or the day before, at this stage, place the lid on and pop it in the fridge until you’re ready.

Once ready, preheat the oven to around 180degrees, gas 7. Take the lid off before placing the pie in the oven for approximately 30-35 minutes until golden.

Serve hot with veg of choice. We like cabbage best with this meal, and extra gravy. Then get the kids to wash up after dinner.

Contact me for hints and tips on cooking on a budget.

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