Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cottage Pie

Lately, I’ve had a hankering for mashed potatoes and gravy. I’m getting fed up of barbecuing and salads, and I’m ready to start eating some cold weather food. Although our temps have cooled quite a bit, and a few leaves are starting to turn on the trees, the warm weather isn’t quite done with us yet.

On Saturday, however, the remnants of Hurricane Ike moved through our area and gave us a good old soaking. It started raining on Saturday afternoon and didn’t stop bucketing it down until Sunday morning. All that rain and the cool weather allowed me to satisfy my craving for mash with some good old British comfort food, Cottage Pie, lovely.

The difference between Cottage and Shepherd’s Pie is in the choice of meat. Cottage Pie is made with minced beef, and Shepherd’s Pie with minced shepherds, sorry I couldn’t resist, actually ground lamb. I think I’ve mentioned before that lamb is as rare as rocking horse poop here in Oklahoma, hence Cottage Pie.

Another thing, although I have said to use corn starch to thicken the gravy, I actually use a British product called Bisto gravy powder. According to their mantra, Bisto browns, seasons, and thickens all in one go, it’s what my mum always used, so I was weaned on it. But, I should point out that I have made this dish exactly as in this recipe, one time when I couldn’t get hold of any Bisto, and it was still good. If you’re interested you can check out Bisto here:

Cottage Pie


1lb ground sirloin
1/2 tablespoon butter
2 lbs. mashed potatoes, mashed with milk and butter
1 onion, chopped.
3 carrots, sliced
2 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
A generous dash of fresh ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water


  • Pre-heat oven to 400°F
  • In a large skillet melt butter over medium high heat and brown meat.
  • Add the onion and sauté for two minutes.
  • Add carrots and beef stock. Bring to the boil, add Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, and bay leaves, and simmer for 20-25 minutes.
  • Using a slotted spoon transfer the mixture to an 11-inch x 7-inch ovenproof dish, reserving most of the stock, and removing bay leaves. Add about ½ of a cup of stock to the meat. I know a lot of people prefer to add most of the stock to the dish, but I find this make the mash to soggy. I like my mash to stay firm, but it’s a matter of personal preference.
  • Cover the mixture with mashed potato, and form grooves in the surface with a fork.
  • Bake for 50 – 60 minutes, or until potatoes are golden brown.
  • Skim any fat from surface of reserved stock. Mix cornstarch with a little water and add to stock. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until gravy thickens, add more seasoning if required.

Serve pie with seasonal vegetables and lashings of gravy.


Denise said...

Hi Janet, now that sounds absolutely wonderful. I am going to make this as soon as I can. Thanks for sharing it.

Lisa said...

Nice comforting fall food.

Raquel said...

Oh, fabulous! I love cottage pie - or shepard's pie. As for not being able to find lamb - try googling organic farms in OK - I tried that for MO and found several places within reasonable driving distance that sell lamb! Whoo HOO - they are pretty expensive tho! Eatwild is the site I found! Much love, Raquel XO

Jan said...

Thanks for the info, Raquel. I'll see what I can find.

Pam said...

Oh my. This is my kind of meal. Potatoes, meat, veggies, gravy - it doesn't get better than that. I have never made a cottage pie before but I will be soon!!!

Cheryl said...

Jan, that looks delicious, my husband would LOVE it! Thanks for sharing and I will keep my eye out for Shepards, LOL, that cracked me up!

Beth said...

You can't beat bisto!!! Stangly the weather is warming up over here at the moment. We've had a lovely couple of days - about bleedin time!!

Jan said...

Mmmmm - mashed potato - cottage pie - nothing is quite the same. Looks yummy Jan!

nicole said...

I love everything that goes into a cottage pie. Sounds very tasty. It's too bad you can't find any lamb in OK.

Paula said...

I want some, I want some! Not ground shepherd, but cottage pie! This looks and sounds terrific. I love those groove marks on top, too. This is total comfort food. YUM!

PS: Hope your weather has improved.

Dhanggit said...

i love the way you made that cottage pie! i havent cooked that for ages..thanks for giving me a delicious idea :-)

Jackie said...

Looks yummy. You can't beat cottage pie. I should make one soon. I haven't made one for a while. Like you I am British living in the US and I still have to have my old British favorites once in a while.

Expat mum said...

Oh what a good girl. Our shops sell a packet mix for Shepherd's Pie which is actually quite decent and staves off the cravings.

pamokc said...

OOOOH, this is one of my most favorite dishes ever. My husband makes a great one and sometimes will slice tomatoes and put on the top and then grate some cheese over them and put under the broiler. Plus you can use up some left over veggies (peas/carrots/whatever) ... yummmmm

And I do think there are a few places that raise organic lamb in OK. There is a food coop, will try to find the info and get it to you.

pamokc said...

I have been tempted to order from these people! Evidently, you place your order and then there are drop-off points around the state where you go pick it up.

Jason said...

Hi Jan,
How interesting...Bisto, I've never heard of it but am putting it on my grocery list as we speak!
Mashed potatoes are one of my favorites, so this looks amazing. Are shepherds as tender as ground sirloin? Haa haa, I loved the joke!
I am also ready for some fall food...better get to the gym so I can really pig out!

Jeena said...

Your cottage pie looks wonderful, I know what you mean about craving potatoes and gravy I do too. :-)

Jan said...

Thanks for all your lovely comments, I will be sharing lots more British favorites over the winter.

Beth, I'm glad you're finally getting some sun. It sounds like it's been a really miserable summer in Britain this year.

Jackie, thanks for popping into my humble blog. It's a pity you didn't leave any contact info, I hope you'll stop by again.

Pam, I have also dressed up cottage pie with tomatoes and cheese, but I still prefer it the old-fashioned way. Thanks much for the info on the farming cooperatives.

Christen said...

Janet, not sure if they have delivery close to you, but check out, they have several farms that sell lamb.

James Walsh said...

Haven't heard of Bisto in years. It used to be a staple in the UK along with Bovril. We used to get a bowl of Bovril with some bread in it and it was delicious. I haven't made cottage pie yet but I make shepards pie quite often. I want to make steak and kidney pudding but I have a hard time finding suet over here.

Dazy said...

That's my kind of meal when I am alone. That and a glass of wine and a chick movie! Looks perfect!