A classic cottage pie recipe

What do you get when you combine a good dose of meaty leftovers with widely accessible starch and rolling green hills? A humble pie, folks. Originating in the English countryside, this classic dish became known as ‘cottage pie’ in reference to the modest dwellings of those who ‘invented’ it. Here’s our easy recipe, without the black birds of course.


Ingredients (serves 4-6):

For the pie

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, grated or finely sliced
2 carrots, grated
6 rashers of bacon, diced
A good handful of mushrooms
500g extra lean beef mince
½ cup milk
1 chicken stock cube
2 cups water
1 can tinned tomatoes
2 sprigs thyme
2 Tbsp butter
Parmesan cheese, finely grated

For the topping

2 large carrots
4 medium potatoes



1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
2. Heat a large saucepan, add the oil, onion, carrots, mushrooms and bacon and fry until the onion starts to caramelize and the bacon is crispy.
3. Add the beef, season with salt and pepper and then use the back of a wooden spoon to break down the mince.
4. Simmer for 10 minutes until the mince has browned.
5. Add the milk and stir through until evaporated. The milk adds a lovely creamy texture to lean beef mince. Then add the stock, tomatoes and thyme.
6. Turn the heat down and simmer to allow the flavours to develop and the liquid to evaporate.
7. Prep your toppings. Peel and cube the carrots and potatoes. The carrot in the mash makes for a wonderfully colourful dish and is a great way to get the kids to eat more veg. When it comes to picking your spuds, try to buy the correct variant of potatoes for the dish you are planning. For cottage pie (and mash) you need potatoes that fluff perfectly, which are usually marked as ‘floury’ potatoes. The ‘waxy’ potatoes hold their shape better and are ideal for salads. For something slightly less conventional, you could also use the orange sweet potatoes in your mash. Healthy and vibrant in colour.


8.Gently boil the carrots and potatoes in 2 cms of water in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Simmer until soft. Mash and set aside. For the more refined tastebuds out there, flavour the toppings with freshly grated nutmeg.
9. Pour the mixture into an ovenproof dish – we used these Le Creuset Mini Stoneware Cocottes. Spoon the topping over, dot with butter and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
10. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and piping hot.

So the next time you’re reminiscing over cottage pane windows, herds of dairy cows and sheep grazing in the misty, green hills and a crackling fire, you either need to watch The Hobbit again, or more than likely, it’s this pie that your really hungry for.

With thanks to Callie Maritz and Mari-Louis Guy for their beautiful styling and recipe.