beef · casserole

Cottage Pie

Greetings friends! How do I deal with the cold November rain? I eat warm, delicious, comfort food until all my  chills and fears are but a distant memory. It was particularly rainy, windy and gross the other day and I thought that a good old meat and potatoes pie would soothe my soul. Now, some of you are probably confused by the title “Cottage Pie”. What I made I would normally have called a “Shepherd’s Pie” but after a little bit of research I found that a SP is made with lamb and a CP is made with beef. Neat! Perhaps this isn’t true, but I like the name cottage pie so I’m sticking with it.


My husband loves a cottage pie. My mom always buys one from Costco for dinner when we’re in town. Don’t get me wrong, the Costco one is fine but it doesn’t hold candle to the masterpiece I created. I always find the beef in cottage pies to be a bit dry and bland. That’s why I made a beef style gravy that cooks low and slow and thickens over time. This recipe isn’t hard, it’s just a bit time consuming so do what I did:

-make mulled wine
-drink mulled wine
-cue up a few episodes of Frasier.

Before you know it, it’ll be pie time! I adapted this recipe from the good people at the BBC to make it my own!

Julia’s Cottage Pie

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 3 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 cup thawed frozen corn (or canned, or fresh!)
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 medium potatoes, peeled
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 tbsp herb and garlic cream cheese
  • pad of butter
  • 3 tbsp parmesan cheese


  1. Over medium heat brown the beef in a large sauce pan with a bit of olive oil. Once cooked, set aside. Add remaining oil and cook onions, carrots, corn and garlic until soft. About 15 minutes. Add flour and tomato puree, cook for 2 minutes. Add cooked beef. Then add the wine, worcestershire sauce and herbs and let simmer for about 3 minutes before adding the beef broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and then let simmer for about 40 minutes with the lid off. If the gravy looks way too soupy, let it cook a little longer or use a bit of cornstarch to thicken it. (instructions on package!)
  2. Meanwhile, make your potatoes! In a large pot, cover your potatoes with cold water and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Once the potatoes are tender (10-15 minutes), drain them and add butter, cream cheese, milk, salt and pepper. Mash the shit out of them. Set aside.
  3. Once your beef and veg gravy is all done, pour into a casserole pan. Remove bay leaves. Don’t worry if it’s still soupy. It’ll firm up while it bakes. Top with dollops of mashed potato and smooth it out using a spatula or the back of your spoon. Sprinkle parmesan all over.
  4. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until it is bubbling and golden brown. Let sit for at least 15 minutes! If you dig in too soon, all of that goodness will ooze out and look like a hot mess. (That’s exactly what I did and the reason why there’s only one picture of the pie! When I went for seconds, it had set perfectly.)
  5. Add hot sauce, chili flakes or even some ketchup if you’re one of those people! Or just enjoy it as is 🙂

WOAH!  This was the best cottage/shepherd’s/meat pie I’ve ever had! There is such a depth of flavour in the beef gravy. Nothing about this is dry of flavourless. The potatoes are rich and creamy with the parmesan adding a hint of crunch and funk. The carrots are tender and sweet and the corn gives it texture and pop. If you want to get nuts, you could add peas! I would have, but I forgot to pick some up. If you’re vegetarian this would be very good with veggie ground round and veggie broth. Since you’re adding wine and it’s cooking for so long, the flavours will develop and transform that soy stuff into something truly magical!

I do hope you try this. It made enough for 4 healthy servings. Maybe you could squeeze 5 out of it? But we went back for seconds because it was irresistible. So, even if it’s too cold to go to the cottage, it’s just the right temperature to go to the cottage pie!

Happy Eating with Julia!

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