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2017 10 2814Cottage pie is a traditional dish in the UK and this version is totally tasty. It contains a secret ingredient that makes your life easy. Like many traditional recipes each family has their own, probably passed from mother to daughter through the generations. This recipe is worth a go even if you have one of your own. For those that don’t know cottage pie has a meaty layer that is topped with mashed potato. It is very similar to Shepherds pie, the difference between them is one is made from beef mince, the other is made from Lamb. I will leave you to work out which is which. The pie can be made in stages and kept in the refrigerator until needed.

Link to measurement conversion chart

Serves 6 to 8 people


For the meat layer

  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 medium carrots cut to 1 cm cubes
  • ¼ of a medium swede peeled and chopped to 1cm cubes
  • 100g Mushrooms chopped
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • Secret ingredient……1 tin of chunky vegetable soup - any variety will do

For the potato layer

  • 2kg potatoes peeled and chopped to 3 cm cubes
  • 25g butter
  • 50ml milk
  • 50g mature cheddar cheese grated
  • Seasoning to taste

You will also need

  • 2 saucepans, 1 to cook the mash and 1 to cook the meat
  • an ovenproof casserol dish

For the meat layer

  1. Heat a little oil in a large saucepan then add the mince. Fry the mince until it starts to brown, try not to stir it too much
  2. Add the onions, mushrooms, carrots and swede and heat through for 2 minutes stirring
  3. Add the stock cube and vegetable soup, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally
  4. Transfer the meat to a large casserole dish and allow to cool, skimming off any fat as it settles on the surface

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For the potato layer

  1. Boil the potatoes for 10 – 12 minutes until soft
  2. Drain the potatoes, put them back in the saucepan, add the butter and milk then mash until smooth then season to taste
  3. Spread the mash on top of the meat layer and sprinkle the grated cheese on top

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Bake the cottage pie

  1. Heat the oven to 180c
  2. Put the completed pie into the oven and bake for 40 - 50 mins until heated through, golden and crispy on top.
  3. Eat and enjoy!

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Serving suggestions and variations

  • Once assembled Cottage Pie is a one pot dish due to the volume of veg it contains, however if you want more veg a few peas or runner beans make a great accompaniment.
  • Having added the secret ingredient you should not need extra gravy, but if you like gravy, try instant Bisto and make your life easy.
  • For an impressive meal make up individual cottage pie’s instead of one big one
  • Don’t have time to make mash then top the pie with thin slices of potato arranged on top instead
  • Like your cheese, try adding 100g of grated cheese to the mashed potato
  • Want have a go at Shepherds Pie then substitute lamb mince for the beef mince and replace the beef stock cube with a vegetable stock cube
  • Want a more adult version then miss out the soup and add a good slug of red wine instead
  • Cutting out the carbs then try mashed Carrots and swede or Mashed Sweet potatoes instead of mashed potatoes

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I created a version of this Cottage pie years ago when I was on a very limited budget. I originally only used the soup, a lot less mince and onions, all bulked out with red lentils and created a very tasty low cost meal. When I started my life as a married woman I tried using other recipes for our cottage pie and I forgot the secret ingredient altogether. It was only when describing how to make a quick cottage pie for Simon when he left home that I suggested he use a tin of vegetable soup and this version of our Cottage Pie was reinvented. Yummy!

You might like to try some other recipes from our collection;

  • Looking for a light bite with a bit of panash then have a go at Eggs Royal, they make a super lunch.
  • For a warming something on a winters day then try our French onion soup
  • Rhubarb fool makes a lovely prepare ahead dish when entertaining friends


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Happy eating!