Cottage Pie is one of those dishes that some regard as comfort food. Similar to Shepherd’s Pie (which uses lamb) this recipe calls for beef. It’s a dish I remember my grandad and gran making as a child, watching as they pottered around the kitchen together. Great for a hearty meal served on a cool evening, and it’s always best around a table filled with family and friends.
For beef filling:
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 large stalks celery, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 ½ lbs. lean ground beef
1 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground white pepper or freshly ground black pepper
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 small stalk of sage
2 bay leaves
2 cups beef broth
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp tomato paste
¼ cup flour (all-purpose or gluten-free)
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup frozen peas
1/3 cup frozen corn
For mashed potatoes:
4-5 medium russet potatoes
2 ½ tsp salt
1/3 cup sour cream
½ cup half-n-half
5 tbsp unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ tsp ground white or black pepper
- Dice the carrots, celery and onion; crush garlic cloves; set aside. Add 1 tbsp coconut oil to a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat until simmering. Add ground beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Let cook, undisturbed, until the bottom is browned, about 5 minutes. Flip and continue to cook through until liquid has evaporated, 2-3 minutes.
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer beef to a plate and reduce heat under the pot to medium. Add the remaining coconut oil and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally and scraping any browned bits from the bottom, until onion turns translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add celery, carrot, garlic, ½ tsp salt and cook for 2 minutes. Add fresh thyme, sage, and bay leaves. Continue stirring occasionally until carrots start to soften, about 3 minutes. Return the beef and any accumulated juices to the pot. While stirring, add tomato paste and sprinkle in flour. Cook, stirring frequently, until darkened in color, about 2 minutes.
- Increase heat to medium-high, add beef broth and Worcestershire sauce; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until liquid thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, peel and cut potatoes into 1-inch pieces. Place in a medium saucepan with 1 ½ tsp of salt and enough cold water to cover the potatoes. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat as needed and simmer until potatoes are tender, 15-20 minutes.
- Heat oven to 400° and position rack to the upper third of the oven.
- Drain potatoes; place the pot over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring regularly. This dries the potatoes and yields a fluffier mash. Remove from heat, add butter and mash the potatoes. Add sour cream and half-n-half. Add salt, pepper and crushed garlic; stir to combine.
- When beef is ready, add remaining salt and pepper; stir in peas and corn and simmer 2-3 minutes. Discard thyme sprigs, bay leaves and sage.
- Transfer beef mixture to a baking dish (or leave it in the dutch oven pot) and spread evenly. Spread mashed potatoes evenly over beef, covering completely all the way to the edge of baking dish. Use a fork to make lines, swirls, or patterns in the potatoes to create a crisp texture when baked. Cut small pieces of butter, place around the top of the mash.
- Bake until topping is golden-brown in spots, 25-30 minutes. For extra-crispy topping, turn broiler to high until desired crispness, 3-5 minutes more. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.