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This simple cottage pie with cheddar mashed potatoes makes a great weeknight meal! It’s a great way to use up any leftover ground beef or potatoes, too.
In fact, it’s such a family favorite that I make it at least once a month, sometimes two! I even made a sweet potato topped variation with my kids on a Facebook Live; you can see the whole video (and the disaster zone they make my kitchen into) in the video down at the bottom of this post.
This is a Cottage Pie made with traditional ingredients
In honor of my Irish husband and half Irish kids and alllll the Irish in my own melting-pot American background, I made this cottage pie the way you should, which is to say it was made with Kerrygold butter and Dubliner cheddar cheese.
I highly recommend you get your hands on either of these fine examples of Irish culinary prowess, but if you’re not able to, any old butter and a good sharp cheddar will work just fine.
Old school cottage pie and shepherd’s pie is traditionally made with a layer of pie crust underneath, and the filling was made with leftover ground beef or shredded beef; usually, it was the remnants of the previous night’s roast dinner.
I love this little piece of history in a casserole dish; few things in this world make me happier than the chance to reuse leftover food! Light-waste meals FTW.
Plus, this is Percolate Kitchen, and we keep things simple around here.
And I’m certainly not making you roll out pie crust if you don’t have to. This cottage pie is made with no bottom layer. It’s simply seasoned ground beef with carrots, onions, and peas, topped with those bangin’ cheesy mashed potatoes.
This pie clocks in at just under 30 minutes cook time and is perfect for a weeknight meal.
It’s also crazy forgiving if parts of it are made in advance; hence the call for leftover ground beef!
AND, it also freezes beautifully; I made a couple individual servings of this pie (one of which was frozen in this gorgeous red Rachael Ray pan you see in the photos) while I was pregnant with my daughter and it was a lifesaver during those hazy newborn days. You might not have time to shower in those days, but you might have time to defrost a cottage pie!
Classic Cottage Pie with Cheddar Mashed Potatoes
Producerusset potato1 pound, peeled
peas1 cup, frozen or fresh
whole milk1/4 cup
shredded cheddar cheese3/4 cup
Dry Goodsextra-virgin olive oil2 tablespoons
beef broth1 cup
Worcestershire sauce2 tablespoon
Proteinground beef1 pound
Spicespowdered mustard2 teaspoon
ground garlic2 teaspoon
table salt1/2 teaspoon
AKA Shepherd’s Pie, this is one of my Irish-born husband’s most favorite comfort foods, so we eat it pretty regularly. It’s incredibly versatile- the original recipe was made with the leftovers from Sunday dinners, and typically used shredded beef or mutton and was thickened with gravy and leftover veggies- so feel free to play around with ingredients here! I’ll also sometimes use mashed sweet potatoes and ground turkey for a low-calorie meal that isn’t quite so heavy on the stomach.
- Fill a medium-sized pot halfway with water and bring to a boil.
- Roughly chop the potatoes to about 3” wide pieces and add to the pot of boiling water.
- Cook potatoes until they break apart easily with a fork, about 12-15 minutes.
- While the potatoes are cooking, prep the filling: heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering.
- Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions and carrots have softened considerably, about 8-10 minutes.
- Add the peas and ground beef to the saucepan and cook, stirring occasionally to crumble, until the beef has browned, about 10 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350*F.
- Add the Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, powdered mustard, garlic and salt to the meat mixture. Taste and season again with more salt and pepper as necessary.
- When the potatoes have cooked, drain the water and return the potatoes to the pot.
- Add the butter and milk to the potatoes and mash until smooth, adding more milk or butter to your tastes. Stir in the cheddar cheese.
- Spoon the beef mixture into a 1 ½ QT baking dish, then evenly spread the potatoes on top.
- Place in the oven and bake, 20 minutes or until the top of the mashed potatoes have browned. Remove and serve hot.
Prep it for later:
1. Boil the potatoes, following instructions in Steps 1-3, and 9-10
2.Make the meat mixture, following instructions in Steps 4-12
3.You can top the meat mixture with the potatoes and hold until cooking day when you reheat- or you can store separately in the freezer. The shepherd’s pie mixture and mashed potatoes will store in the fridge for up to 4 days, and in the freezer for up to 3 months.
1 container of mashed potatoes
1 container of meat mixture (combine these before storing, or store separately and combine before you reheat- it’s up to you!)
Prepare from prepped:
1.Preheat oven to 350*F.
2. Spread the meat mixture in a 1 ½ QT baking dish and top with the mashed potatoes.
3. Place pan in the oven and bake 20 minutes or until the mashed potatoes have started to brown. Remove and serve hot.
If you’re looking for an easy accompaniment to your cottage pie, check out the recipe for this fabulous Irish soda bread.Print
- 2 cups all purpose white flour
- 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 14 oz (or 1 3/4 cups) buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 450*F
- Over a large mixing bowl, sieve all the dry ingredients together (I have a beloved flour sifter that I put everything through, but a fine mesh colander works fine)
- A little at a time, add the buttermilk, mixing well after each addition. Once all the buttermilk is added, continue stirring until the dough is shaggy and barely combined. Turn onto a lightly floured countertop and gently knead until the bread is shaped into a round. Slice a cross shape into the top of the loaf.
- Bake at 450*F so 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 400*F and continue baking for 30-45 minutes. Bread is done when you can turn it over and hear a hollow sound when you knock on the bottom of the loaf. Wrap in a kitchen towel and let sit at least half an hour before cutting.
Here’s a short, 10-minute video I created with my kids as we made this easy cottage pie one afternoon. the kids make a mess, have tantrums, demand snacks halfway through, look adorable, and the pie eventually is made. If you’re a busy parent, this scene is going to look all too familiar!
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