Cottage pie in dish with plate and gravy boat

Next level cottage pie

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(8 ratings)

Prep: 50 mins Cook: 2 hrs plus at least 1 hr cooling

More effort

Serves 6 - 8

We've taken the humble cottage pie to the next level by giving it defined layers, fluffier mash and a rarebit topping with extra gravy for serving

Nutrition and extra info

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal600
  • fat31g
  • saturates14g
  • carbs43g
  • sugars8g
  • fibre5g
  • protein32g
  • salt1.3g


    For the filling

    • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
    • 1kg lamb mince or beef mince, or use half and half
    • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
    • 2 onions, chopped



      Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

    • 2 tbsp plain flour
    • 1 bay leaf
    • large pinch dried thyme


      This popular herb grows in Europe, especially the Mediterranean, and is a member of the mint…

    • 2 tbsp ketchup
    • 2 tbsp tomato purée
    • generous splash Worcestershire sauce
    • 330ml dark ale
    • 1.2l beef stock made with 2 stock cubes or pots

    For the topping

    • 1½ kg King Edward potatoes or Desirée potatoes, unpeeled and kept whole
    • 100ml whole milk
    • 50g butter



      Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

    • 2 tsp English mustard powder
    • 50g extra mature cheddar, finely grated


    1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Crumble in the mince and stir to coat the meat in the hot oil. Cook the mince for 15 mins until you are left with browned, toasted mince and the fat from the meat. Stir the vegetables in with the mince and cook for 10 mins until they start to turn brown. Sprinkle over the flour and cook for a further 2 mins. Stir in the herbs, ketchup and tomato purée, and splash in the Worcestershire sauce. Pour in the ale, bubble for a minute, then gradually stir in the stock. Leave everything to simmer gently for 1 hr until you have a tender mince in a rich gravy.

    2. Use a slotted spoon to lift the mince and vegetables into a large baking dish, leaving the residual gravy in the pan. Drain the gravy through a sieve into another saucepan, then tip what remains in the sieve back into the baking dish. Leave the mince to cool, then put in the fridge (or, better still, the freezer if you have room) for at least 1 hr until the fat from the mince solidifies. This part can be made up to two days ahead.

    3. While the meat sauce is cooling, make the cheesy potato topping. Tip the potatoes, whole and in their skins, into a large pan of salted water. Bring the pan to the boil and simmer for 15 mins until the potatoes are cooked all the way through. Drain off the water and leave until the potatoes are just cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, boil the milk, butter and mustard powder together in a large saucepan. Peel the cooked potatoes by rubbing their skins off with a tea towel. Mash or pass the potatoes through a ricer into the hot milk and butter, stir through the cheese and season with salt and pepper.

    4. When the meat sauce has set, top with the mash. Start from the outside and use a spatula to scrape the mash against the side of the dish, then spread it over the middle of the dish. Using a fork, make lines across the topping. Can be frozen for up to 6 months.

    5. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Put the pie on a large baking tray to catch any drips and bake for 30-35 mins until golden. Leave it to rest for at least 10 mins while you heat up the extra gravy. Serve the pie at the table with green vegetables and the jug of extra gravy for pouring over.

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    Comments, questions and tips

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    2nd Jun, 2018
    Overall I was disappointed by the result. The mash was tasty but the meat was underwhelming and lacked body. It needed more richness to give it the flavour I expected from a 'next level' meal and although the beer was in there, it didn't come across in the gravy. We scored it 7.5/10 and would try it again but it would need a few tweaks to get the richness into it.
    Frantic Flapjack
    2nd Apr, 2018
    Not sure what made this next level - maybe the beer?? This was well received although I did make a few tweaks. I used only half the stock as it already seemed to be a lot of liquid with just half the amount. This still made enough gravy for 6 people. I couldn't see the point of leaving the potatoes unpeeled as it seemed a faff to peel them after. They were still very good. The tip to top the meat after it had cooled worked really well - much easier to spread the potato over. I would definitely make this again.
    iamnotgemma's picture
    13th Mar, 2018
    Ace. The ale in the meat filling is so so good. The mash is nice but I found it a bit of a faff compared to standard mash and only a small improvement. This recipe made enough for two 4-portion trays of pie (albeit a bit small portions) one to eat and one to freeze.
    22nd Apr, 2018
    As the meat in this dish is reheated, can you reheat leftovers? I love this pie but had a fair bit left and don’t want to waste it but am a bit wary as the meat had already been cooked once.
    goodfoodteam's picture
    25th Apr, 2018
    Thanks for your question. It is fine to reheat this as long as the pie is piping hot throughout. For more advice on leftovers, check out this article:
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