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    Published March 17, 2023. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

    The flavors in this delicious cottage pie recipe from the slow-cooked onions, beef, and root vegetables with cheesy mashed potato topping are amazing. Once you try this, it will quickly become a new family favorite.

    Irish food should be celebrated more than just around St. Patrick’s Day. The rich, hearty flavors and easily accessible ingredients make it an excellent cuisine. If you want to try out some classical Irish dishes, try my Corned Beef and Cabbage or Irish Apple Cake.

    slice of cottage pie on a plate


     

    Cottage Pie

    Cottage pie is a traditional Irish dish consisting of a beef filling with root vegetables and gravy baked in a dish with a topping of mashed potatoes. It is the exact same thing as a shepherd’s pie, but it uses beef instead of lamb. There can be some customization with the filling by adding or swapping out some of the vegetables, like corn or peas. The potato topping can also have some variations using different fats such as sour cream or olive oil.

    This is an extremely hearty dish with rich flavors and is something everyone in my family loves and regularly asks for. My recipe does feed quite a bit, but this does make for excellent leftovers, and it does store well in the freezer.

    Ingredients and Substitutions

    ingredients to make cottage pie
    • Beef – I prefer to use ground sirloin or short rib. However, you can use ground chuck or even grind it yourself.
    • Onions – You can use a yellow, white, or sweet onion. In addition, I also used leeks and garlic.
    • Vegetables – There are some options here, but I combined carrots, celeriac root, and turnips for the filling. I use russet potatoes for the mashed potato topping.
    • Wine – I like to use cabernet sauvignon, merlot, or shiraz. Best to use what’s on sale for something like this.
    • Stock – Use good beef stock or brodo for this cottage pie recipe.
    • Fat – Most of this is for the mashed potatoes, but I use buttermilk and unsalted butter. In addition, you’ll need your favorite oil for searing the beef, and I used olive oil for that.
    • Mustard – A bit of Dijon mustard brings out some incredible flavors in the pie.
    • Cheese – Dubliner cheese is best to use for mashed potatoes.
    • Tomato Paste – This will add body, flavor, and color to the beef filling.

    How to Make Cottage Pie

    Add some oil to a large rondeau pot over medium-high heat.

    adding oil to a rondeao

    Place in the ground beef and cook on all sides to sear it until browned and cooked throughout, which takes about 6 to 7 minutes. Stir this frequently.

    browning ground beef

    Set the beef to the side on a plate and then add the onions and leeks to the pot with the rendered meat fat and caramelize the onions over low to medium heat for up to 45 minutes or until very well browned, sweet, and tender.

    caramelizing onions

    Next, add in the carrots, celeriac root, and turnips and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes over medium heat just until very lightly browned.

    sautéing vegetables

    Stir in the garlic and cook until it becomes fragrant, which takes about 30 to 45 seconds.

    adding garlic to cooked vegetables

    Add the beef back to the pan and stir it until combined.

    stirring beef and vegetables

    Deglaze with the red wine and cook until au sec or almost gone, which takes about 3 to 4 minutes.

    adding wine to a pot with beef and vegetables

    Stir in the tomato paste until the ingredients are coated.

    mixing in tomato paste to beef and vegetables

    Next, sprinkle in the flour and stir it to combine.

    making a roux for cottage pie

    Pour the beef stock and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until thick.

    adding beef stock to cottage pie filling

    Season with Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and thyme. Adjust any seasonings and stir these in and taste them.

    herbs in a cottage pie filling

    Transfer the beef filling to a deep 13×9 pan. Briefly set it aside.

    adding cottage pie filling to a casserole dish

    In a large pot of boiling salted water, add in the potatoes and cook for 12 to 13 minutes or until tender.

    adding potatoes to boiling water

    Drain the potatoes and hand-mash them or run them through a food mill until smooth.

    mashing potatoes

    Fold in the buttermilk, melted butter, 1 cup of cheese, salt, and ground white pepper until mixed. Transfer to an optional piping bag with a large star or round tip.

    mixing potatoes with eggs and milk

    Add the potatoes to the top of the pan with the beef filling in any design you want. You can do stars, zig sags, fleurettes, or even add to the top and smooth it out.

    piping potatoes onto cottage pie filling

    Garnish with ¼ cup of melted butter and ½ cup of cheese. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned on top.

    sprinkling cottage pie with cheese

    Sprinkle on an optional garnish of chopped parsley and serve.

    finished slice of cottage pie

    Freeze It First, Then Bake It

    If you are wanting to serve this cottage pie on a later day, you are in luck because this freezes well. The first option would be to bake it entirely, then chill and freeze it. The other is to assemble everything, chill it and then freeze it. Here are a few options for baking it.

    • If you want to save some baking time, pull it out of the freezer and let it thaw in the refrigerator for 1 day before baking it. If you do this procedure, bake it at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes or until warm.
    • If you are going straight from the freezer to the oven, you will need to bake it at 350° for 60 to 75 minutes.

    Make-Ahead and Storage

    Make-Ahead: This recipe is meant to be eaten immediately; however, keep it warm in the oven covered in foil at low temperatures for up to 1 hour before serving.

    How to Store: Cover and place it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. This will freeze covered for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator for 1 day before reheating.

    How to Reheat: If you reheat the cottage pie, place it in the oven at 350° for 10-15 minutes or until warmed. When heating up a single portion, I recommend warming it in the microwave.

    Chef Billy Parisi

    Chef Notes + Tips

    • If you can’t find Dubliner cheese, substitute for gruyere or your favorite aged white cheddar cheese.
    • You can use Yukon potatoes for the topping if you’d like.
    • The pot I used for the filling was 7 quarts.
    • You can easily cut this recipe in half.
    • You may need to add more buttermilk or melted butter to the mashed potatoes to get the consistency right. They should be creamy and smooth but stand upright when scooping them onto a plate.

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    Cottage Pie Recipe

    5 from 34 votes
    The flavors in this cottage pie recipe, with slow-cooked onions, beef, and root vegetables with cheesy mashed potato topping, are amazing.
    Servings: 10
    Prep Time: 30 minutes
    Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

    Ingredients 

    For the Filling:

    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 pounds ground beef
    • 1 peeled and small diced yellow onion
    • 2 rinsed, quartered, and thinly sliced leeks
    • 2 peeled small-diced carrots
    • 1 cup peeled and small-diced celeriac root
    • 1 cup peeled and small-diced turnip
    • 4 finely minced cloves of garlic
    • 1 cup red wine
    • ¼ cup tomato paste
    • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
    • 2 ½ cups beef stock
    • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 to 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
    • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
    • Coarse sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

    For the Topping:

    • 5 pounds peeled quartered russet potatoes
    • ½ to ¾ cup buttermilk
    • 1 stick + ¼ cup melted unsalted butter
    • 1 ½ cups shredded Dubliner cheese
    • 2 egg yolks
    • coarse sea salt and ground white pepper to taste

    Instructions

    • Add the oil to a large rondeau pot over medium high heat.
    • Place in the ground beef and cook on all sides to sear it until browned and cooked throughout, which takes about 6 to 7 minutes. Stir this frequently.
    • Set the beef to the side on a plate and then add the onions and leeks to the pot with the rendered meat fat and caramelize the onions over low to medium heat for up to 45 minutes or until very well browned, sweet, and tender.
    • Next, add in the carrots, celeriac root, and turnips and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes over medium heat just until very lightly browned.
    • Stir in the garlic and cook it just until it becomes fragrant, which takes about 30 to 45 seconds.
    • Add back in the beef to the pan and stir it until combined.
    • Deglaze with the red wine and cook it until au sec or almost gone, which takes about 3 to 4 minutes.
    • Stir in the tomato paste until the ingredients are coated.
    • Next, sprinkle in the flour and stir it to combine.
    • Pour in the beef stock and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or just until thick.
    • Season with Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and thyme. Adjust any seasonings and stirring these in and tasting it. If you like Dijon mustard go with the full 2 tablespoons.
    • Transfer the beef filling to a deep 13×9 pan. Briefly set it aside.
    • In a large pot of boiling salted water add in the potatoes and cook for 12 to 13 minutes or until tender.
    • Drain the potatoes and hand mash them or run them through a food mill until smooth.
    • Fold in the buttermilk, melted butter, 1 cup of cheese, egg yolks, salt, and ground white pepper until mixed on. Transfer to optional piping bag with a large star or round tip.
    • Add the potatoes to the top of the pan with the beef filling in any design you want. You can do stars, zig sags, fleurettes, or even just add to the top and smooth it out.
    • Garnish with a ¼ cup of melted butter and ½ cup of cheese. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned on top.
    • Sprinkle on an optional garnish of chopped parsley and serve.

    Notes

    Make-Ahead: This recipe is meant to be eaten immediately; however, keep it warm in the oven covered in foil at low temperatures for up to 1 hour before serving.
    How to Store: Cover and place it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. This will freeze covered for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator for 1 day before reheating.
    How to Reheat: If you reheat the cottage pie, place it in the oven at 350° for 10-15 minutes or until warmed. When heating up a single portion, I recommend warming it in the microwave.
    If you can’t find Dubliner cheese, substitute for gruyere or your favorite aged white cheddar cheese.
    You can use Yukon potatoes for the topping if you’d like.
    The pot I used for the filling was 7 quarts.
    You can easily cut this recipe in half.
    You may need to add more buttermilk or melted butter to the mashed potatoes to get the consistency right. They should be creamy and smooth but stand upright when scooping them onto a plate.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 610kcalCarbohydrates: 54gProtein: 28gFat: 30gSaturated Fat: 12gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 122mgSodium: 436mgPotassium: 1578mgFiber: 4gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 665IUVitamin C: 23mgCalcium: 224mgIron: 5mg
    Course: dinner, Main
    Cuisine: english, irish