This cottage pie is a rustic and homey one-pot meal. It’s filled with beef and vegetables in a rich gravy and topped with a thick crust of buttery mashed potatoes. A very old kind of dish, dating back to the 18th century British Isles (when the potato was just being introduced there), the cottage pie was just the kind of thing a housewife would prepare to use up scraps and leftovers. I can just imagine this pie being prepared over a fire in the hearth, in a thatched-roof cottage somewhere chilly and wind-swept (yeah, I get a little carried away sometimes).
And if this description sounds just like a shepherd’s pie, that’s because it’s basically the same thing, with the difference being that a cottage pie filling is made with beef and a shepherd’s pie is made with lamb. But we don’t need to be picky about technicalities – use whatever ground meat you like and have on hand.
Besides being totally delicious comfort food, this cottage pie is frugal, too. Potatoes, carrots, and peas are inexpensive vegetables, and the beef is stretched a bit with the addition of chopped mushrooms. And if you’re feeling ambitious, double the recipe and make two pies so that you have an extra for the freezer.
- I prefer to make this a one-pot meal by using a large, deep-sided cast iron skillet to make this recipe. If you don’t have a deep oven-safe skillet, just transfer filling to an oven-safe casserole pan before baking.
- For a more complex flavor, substitute some of the beef broth with red wine.
- Replace the ground beef with ground turkey to lighten up the recipe, or use ground lamb to make it a shepherd’s pie.
- Change up the vegetables based on what is in season or what’s ready in the garden. Substitute sweet corn kernels for the peas in mid-summer. Or try mashed butternut squash or pumpkin instead of potatoes for a pie with a fall flavor.
If you give this recipe a try, let me know how it turned out in the comments. I hope you enjoy!
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