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Cottage Pie

March 20th, 2014

Yesterday, I made cottage pie. It’s a humble meal, one that can be adapted to whatever you have left in the root cellar and freezer. It could easily be made vegetarian or with any kind of ground meat you have on hand. Choose your spices according to the meat and vegetables. I don’t use a recipe, but if you want one this one is good. I always double the vegetables because it’s a good way to eat more of those in a meal!
Making Shepherds pie 1
Since we have an abundance of pork, that was the source of meat I decided to use.  I used sage breakfast sausage, because the spices already mixed in sounded wonderful! There were onions, garlic and potatoes in the root cellar and I also had garden peas and sweet corn in the freezer.
Making Shepherds pie 8
Making Shepherds pie 2
Making Shepherds pie 3
To the mashed potatoes I added homemade butter and fresh cream from the local farm, along with a healthy dose of Kerrygold Dubliner Irish Cheddar Cheese, and of course you can’t forget the freshly ground salt and pepper.
Making Shepherds pie 4
Instead of adding flour as many recipes call for to thicken the juices, I added a cooked and mashed potato to the vegetables and meat.
Making Shepherds pie 5
After putting the meat and vegetables in a cast iron skillet, mashed potatoes are slathered on top. Then it’s baked in the oven for about 30 minutes and turns out quite lovely.
Making Shepherds pie 6
Making Shepherds pie 7
What I love about recipes like these is that they’re so easy and they can be adapted to whatever you have on hand or whatever your family likes. You could easily make a Thanksgiving themed one with ground turkey, green beans, sage and mashed sweet potatoes on top. Or how about a spicy one with ground beef, taco seasoning, tomatoes, onions, peppers, corn and mashed potatoes with monterey jack cheese on top. Of course vegetarian is always an option, any mix of vegetables would work with your favorite spices mixed in. The possibilities are endless!

If you were making Cottage Pie – what mix of ingredients would be your favorite?

16 Comments to “Cottage Pie”
  1. kristin @ going country on March 20, 2014 at 6:07 am

    Oh hey, you just reminded me: I have part of a jar of sauerkraut in the refrigerator. My favorite way to use that is to mix it with browned ground beef and onions, add some caraway seeds, top with mashed potatoes and, voilaYUM, German Shepherd’s Pie.

    The standard shepherd’s pie recipe in our Cook’s Illustrated book is really good too–it has brandy and Worcester in the meat and vegetable mixture, which I think are the keys.

    Oh! And I also really like a fish pie I make whenever I have leftover pike or trout (though I wouldn’t try it with store fish–I’m picky about only eating the fish from our lake). It’s a creamy base of white fish and mushrooms topped with mashed potatoes. I don’t even like fish much, and I like this. The original recipe that I heavily modified came from Darina Allen. Have you read her books about traditional Irish cooking? You’d probably like them.

    Huh. I seem to have a lot to say on this subject . . .

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  2. Adelina on March 20, 2014 at 6:58 am

    Ground chicken. With one family member refusing to eat red meat and pork, everything is now chicken.

    But the veggies I would use are anything I have in the house – parsnips, onions, sweet potatoes, peas, carrots, the list goes on and on.

    Reply to Adelina's comment

  3. Nebraska Dave on March 20, 2014 at 7:53 am

    Susy, my grown kids all remember Dad’s refrigerator soup. Unfortunately the family wouldn’t eat left overs in any form. Dad’s soup was always eaten by Dad. Even to this day I love soup in any form and still make refrigerator soup. I’ve discovered it’s all about matching the seasonings with what’s in the pot that makes for a good soup. As you well know, I’m still learning about that. Onions and garlic do wonders for soup.

    I’ve always wanted to try a Shepard’s pie which is very similar to your cottage pie but I haven’t made one yet. Here in the Midwest country folks used to make what they called a pot pie. It was a stew like mixture with vegetables and meat in a pie crust. It tasted much better than the store bought with the same name. So many great ways to use left overs, don’t you think?

    Have a great cottage pie day.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  4. DebbieB on March 20, 2014 at 8:17 am

    Now I want Cottage Pie for breakfast! Your photos are wonderful – I can smell the aroma from here.

    This is going on our menu for next week.

    Reply to DebbieB's comment

  5. Songbirdtiff on March 20, 2014 at 8:48 am

    For some reason I always thought cottage pie had a crust, so I’ve never made one because we eat mostly gluten-free. I might have to try it now. I’d like broccoli and asparagus, maybe corn and green beans with buttery potatoes. Yum!

    Reply to Songbirdtiff's comment

  6. Joan on March 20, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Oh that looks so delicious! I make something similar with lentils instead of meat, but mine doesn’t look as beautiful.

    I’m curious – I see that you have frozen your veggies in glass jars. I’ve tried this, but always end up with freezer burned veggies. What could you be doing differently?

    Reply to Joan's comment

    • Susy on March 20, 2014 at 9:50 am

      I don’t usually have trouble with freezer burn. I do make sure my vegetables have a lot of moisture, I think the ice helps. You could also fill in around the veggies with water, it does a fantastic job and keeping the air out.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  7. Myra S. on March 20, 2014 at 9:59 am

    I’ve wondered about freezing in Mason jars. Do they break easily if they clink against another one? Does the food expand and break them if they’re in the freezer too long? Maybe a blog post about this would be a good idea, or have I missed that one? I’ve made shepherds pie with ground venison. Yum!

    Reply to Myra S.'s comment

    • whit on March 20, 2014 at 10:09 am

      Hi Myrna, I freeze in glass jars, and haven’t had a problem with breaking unless I fill it too full. Cream soups seem more susceptible to this, so I left a good two inches of head room. Stock I usually leave an inch and the jars are fine. Just don’t pack contents to the brim and you should be fine. As long as you are dealing with tempered glass, it can take a little beating.

      Reply to whit's comment

    • Susy on March 20, 2014 at 11:17 am

      I actually did a post on this a few years back. The key is using wide mouth jars and leaving plenty of headspace.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  8. Marcia on March 20, 2014 at 10:27 am

    I once made one with ground turkey, green beans and mashed Turk’s Turban squash on top. It was delicious!

    Reply to Marcia's comment

  9. Andrea Goldsmith on March 20, 2014 at 11:06 am

    This is a lovely idea! Now I want to make one too… I’m going to use a few pieces of cut up corned beef and vegetables with left over colcannon (Irish mashed potatoes with cabbage) on top. It should be terrific.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply to Andrea Goldsmith's comment

  10. Kara on March 20, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    Oh my goodness that looks delicious. I have a tendency to let things like greens and spinach go to waste before I can use them and I think sauteing them in the meat and making a “pie” out of them is a great option. Plus, Dubliner cheese and mashed potatoes? Who can resist that!!!

    Reply to Kara's comment

  11. Deairdre Miller on March 21, 2014 at 12:36 am

    Ground turkey with rosemary! I now have to try all the other versions that were mentioned, especially the German Cottage Pie!

    Reply to Deairdre Miller's comment

  12. Colleen on March 21, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    I just made one a couple days ago. I like topping the meat/veggies with sweet potatoes or yams. This is a great way to take all the leftover veggies in the fridge and make a new meal. The name I know for this comfort food is, Shepherds Pie. No matter what the name, it is easy and delicious.

    Reply to Colleen's comment

  13. Chris on March 21, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    Oh Yum, your pie looks amazing! I kind of like that one version of adding sauerkraut too…gives it a little German flair! I like your name of Cottage Pie instead of Shepards pie better too! So it is now called Cottage Pie! :)

    Reply to Chris's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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