This cottage pie recipe is absolutely divine, and it’ll show you how to rice potatoes without a ricer! If you’re reading this and wondering what the difference is between cottage pie vs. shepherd’s pie, keep reading! Okay, don’t worry; I won’t keep you in suspense in the great cottage pie vs. shepherd’s pie debate. It just comes down to the meat. The recipes are virtually identical. Shepherd’s pie–the clue is in the name–uses lamb. Cottage pie uses beef. That’s it. That’s the only substantial difference between cottage pie and shepherd’s pie.
How gorgeous is this cottage pie? Perfectly fluffy and rich mashed potatoes are paired with a savory, lightly sweet gravy that is just irresistible.
I’ll show you how you can rice your potatoes without a ricer in this recipe, which will certainly come in handy for Thanksgiving in a couple of weeks!
But first, let’s talk about this cottage pie. The components are simple: ground beef, thick, luscious gravy filled with carrots, celery, onion, and fluffy mashed potatoes. I add a pleasantly surprising sweet factor to the gravy by adding a touch of fig jam. Figs pair so beautifully with hearty beef, which complements the gravy’s super savory flavor.
The trick to the mashed potatoes? A fine-mesh sieve!
Simply cook the potatoes in generously salted water until fork-tender. Once tender, strain through a sieve. Place the sieve over a bowl and use a spatula or the bottom of a measuring cup to press the potatoes through the sieve. Use a spoon to scrape off the resulting potatoes and place them in a second bowl. Continue pressing until all the potatoes have passed through the sieve. This will give you the fluffiest mashed potatoes for this cottage pie recipe!
Once the potatoes have gone through the sieve, add some melted butter, milk, and a little white pepper and mash until smooth and creamy.
How to make this cottage pie recipe:
The premise is quite simple, though time-consuming. Start with the gravy by browning the beef (remember that cottage pie vs. shepherd’s pie debate? don’t call it shepherd’s pie if you’re using beef!).
Once the beef is browned, remove it from the pot and add it to a paper towel-lined plate. Fry up the vegetables–onion, celery, and carrots in this case–and then make the gravy. Use tomato paste and flour, and pour in red wine and beef stock. Bring it to a boil, and then add the beef back to the pot. Add a few ingredients to make it extra delicious, including Worcestershire sauce, fig jam, bay leaves, and fresh thyme sprigs. Let it simmer for 30 minutes until thick and delicious.
While the gravy simmers, make those mashed potatoes.
From there, simply pile the gravy into a baking dish and pour the potatoes on top. You can pipe them on top if you feel like being fancy! Pop it in the oven for about 30 minutes. If you’re like me and you want to be a little extra, pour some melted butter on top and broil briefly to get that crispy, golden outer shell on the mashed potatoes. It’s pure heaven!
Looking for more beef recipes? Check my archives!
- Large pot
- 9×13 Baking Dish
- 2 teaspoons neutral oil
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Pinch of crushed red pepper to taste
- 2 yellow onions peeled and diced
- 4 carrots peeled and diced
- 4 ribs celery with leaves trimmed and diced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 cloves garlic roasted or freshly minced
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire
- 2 cups beef stock
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon fig jam optional
- 2 ¼ pounds Yukon gold potatoes peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
- 3 tablespoons melted butter plus more butter as needed
- ½ cup whole milk
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
- Salt and pepper
- Freshly minced parsley optional
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Brown the beef:
- Heat the neutral oil in a wide pot over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook for 12–15 minutes until browned. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a pinch of crushed red pepper. Turn the heat to high and cook for an additional 5 minutes to crisp up the edges of the beef. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Strain off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pot.
Cook the vegetables:
- Add the yellow onions, carrots, and celery to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8–10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Prepare the gravy:
- Add the tomato paste and the garlic and cook for 1–2 minutes, mashing the paste into the vegetables as it cooks.
- Add the flour and toss to coat. Cook for 2 minutes more.
- Add red wine and turn the heat to medium-high, stirring to lift up anything stuck to the bottom of the pot. Pour in the Worcestershire sauce and beef stock.
- Return the beef to the pot along with the fig jam, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, taste, and season the gravy with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes until thickened. Stir occasionally and add a splash of water or beef stock if the liquid reduces too quickly.
- Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs.
Make the potatoes:
- Add the potatoes to a large pot of salted water and bring them to a boil. Cook for 20 minutes until fork-tender. Drain the potatoes into a fine-mesh sieve.
Rice the potatoes, optional:
- If you have a ricer, rice the potatoes. Alternatively, place the sieve over a large bowl, use a spatula or a large measuring cup, and press the potatoes through the sieve.
Prepare the mashed potatoes:
- Add the melted butter, milk, and white pepper to the potatoes and mash until smooth and creamy. Taste and season with salt.
- Prepare the cottage pie: Grease a baking dish with butter, if needed. Pour the gravy into the baking dish and spoon or pipe the mashed potatoes on top. Smooth it out with the back of your spoon.
- Transfer to the oven for 30 minutes.
Broil the cottage pie, optional:
- Pour 1 tablespoon of melted butter over the mashed potatoes. Turn on the broiler and broil the dish until the potatoes turn golden brown on top, 2–3 minutes. Remove from the broiler and let stand for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with freshly minced parsley.
- Spoon the cottage onto plates. Enjoy with the rest of the wine!