Tag Archives: Pot Pie

Cottage Pie–or Is it Shepherd’s Pie?

Cottage pie, shepherd’s pie, pasties, pot pie.. the list is endless. Earlier, I shared a recipe for chicken pot pie. Pot pie is a mixture of vegetables and meat baked in a casserole with a pie crust topping.

While many people are looking for royalty among their ancestors, I have had to content myself with peasants and yeomen.  It is from peasants in the British Isles that we get the name Cottage Pie–a dish meant to combine a bunch of leftovers in an easy-to-make comfort food.

Our innovative great- great- great grandmothers found many ways to serve up the meat and veggies baked in a crust of some sort.  One favorite in the British isles particularly is Shepherd’s pie, which has become a catch all for casseroles topped with mashed potatoes.  However if it is not made with lamb, it is not a shepherd’s pie.  Cows don’t have shepherds.  Put beef in with the vegetables and you get COTTAGE PIE. And add bread crumbs on top of the mashed potatoes and you have Cornwall pie.

Cottage Pie or Shepherd’s Pie are great ways to use up leftovers, including leftover mashed potatoes. But if you want some Cottage Pie and don’t have leftover mashed potatoes, this recipes includes instructions for starting with raw potatoes.

As I so often do, I scanned the Internet and then came back to my old, ragged, falling apart Joy of Cooking cookbook.

As far as I can see, the only MUSTS in this recipe are mashed potatoes, some kind of meat, some kinds of vegetables, ad seasonings that include nutmeg. It is one of those recipes that is very open to interpretation.  For instance, I include cheese in the mashed potatoes. Some recipes line the entire dish with mashed potatoes.

Cottage pie without crust

Cottage pie divided in several pans for freezing, before adding the mashed potato crust.

Note: The picture you see of my several pans of cottage pie reflect the fact that I made 1 12 recipe because I wanted to freeze some small containers to give to someone who had recently come out of the hospital.  In the spirit of Cottage Pie, I used what I had on hand, which resulted in a thinner coating of both filling and mashed potatoes than I normally would have.

Also, this emphasizes the point that not only is Cottage Pie a supreme comfort food, it is easily freezable for future days when the cook needs the comfort of having a meal ready to eat with some warming up.

Cottage Pie

Serves 6
Prep time 1 hour
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 1 hour, 30 minutes
Allergy Milk, Wheat
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Serve Hot
Region British
From book Joy of Cooking, 1991
The ultimate comfort food is Shepherd's Pie or Cottage Pie depending on what meat you use.

Ingredients

Potato Topping

  • 1 1/2lb potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon Butter (I admit I use much more)
  • 1 cup cheese (grated)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Filling

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1-2 carrots (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 celery stalk (cleaned, peeled and chopped)
  • 1lb ground beef or chopped cooked beef
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 3/4 cups beef or vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Filling (Optional)

  • 1 onion (medium, chopped)

Topping

  • 2 tablespoons butter

Directions

1. Put peeled, quartered potatoes in cool water in pan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Cook until fork tender.
2. Scoop out and set aside 1/2 cup of cooking water before draining potatoes.
3. Mash potatoes with fork or potato masher (preferably not mixer or blender), adding the cooking water, butter, cheese, and salt and pepper.
4. In heavy skillet, brown ground beef if not cooked. Remove from pan and pour off any excess grease.
5. Add vegetable oil and cook the chopped vegetables. Stir back in the meat . Sprinkle flour over, and stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Stir in Stock and seasonings. Reduce to low and cook until thickened.
6. Pour into 9" pie plate or baking dish. Spread the mashed potatoes on top, scoring with fork, or making peaks with the fork. Scatter bits of butter over the top.
7. Bake until the potatoes are browned and dish heated through--30 to 35 minutes.
8. If freezing, let cool slightly. Wrap tightly in aluminum foil, cool in refrigerator, then when cold transfer to freezer.