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Home » Santa Clarita News » Hometown Recipes » Hometown Recipes: Cottage Pie

Hometown Recipes: Cottage Pie

By Erin Walgamuth

September is sort of an in-between time in Santa Clarita as far as the temperature goes, not quite fall and not quite summer. It’s cold in the morning and hot in the afternoon which creates a wardrobe dilemma for all parents of school age kids. By this time of year I am anxiously awaiting a good rain storm, unfortunately I will probably have to wait a bit longer. Fall is my favorite time to cook, especially when the days are cool and breezy. Again, I will probably have to wait a bit longer. So, I hope you will forgive me as I am jumping the gun with this recipe of the week. But I can dream of a rain storm, can’t I?

This recipe is great for one of those nights when the kids have afterschool sports. You can make the pie ahead of time, keep it in the refrigerator and warm in the oven when you get home. Or you can make all the components ahead of time, and then assemble it right before you put it in the oven. It’s also a nice Monday Night Football dish served with a salad.

I’m sure most of you are familiar with Shepherd’s Pie, the mashed potato-topped, everything-in –one-dish English favorite. Traditionally Shepherd’s pie is made with lamb, but while I adore lamb, my family isn’t so keen on it. Well, this is my version of Cottage Pie, which is similar to Shepherd’s Pie in that it has a crust made of mashed potatoes, but is made with ground beef instead of lamb.


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Cottage Pie has been around since 1791. In those days the dish was a way to use leftovers, hmmmmm…some things never change. Potatoes and minced beef were considered food for the poor and since poor rural working people lived in cottages, well, you get the picture.

Over the years I have seen recipes for this type of all-in-one pie, but they usually called for frozen vegetables and were very bland-sounding to me. This recipe is full of flavor as each component taste good on its own. I definitely consider this comfort food, even for a not-quite-fall evening. If you don’t have time to cook the layers separately, please feel free to use frozen vegetables. To save myself time I prep and assemble all the ingredients for each component before I start cooking.

I realize this may sound like a lot of work. But, you could do what I do, sip a glass of wine and listen to some good music while you cook. Oh wait, isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?


Erin’s Cottage Pie

Serves 6                                                                                                                

You will need-

2 quart baking dish
12 “ skillet

Prep time- approximately 40 minutes

Cook time-approximately 28 minutes

Pre-heat oven to 360 degrees


Must have ingredients-

1 pound lean ground beef
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoon olive oil
4 garlic cloves
All-purpose flour
5 tablespoons tomato sauce
½ cup beef broth, plus 1/8 cup for carrots
13 medium carrots
Dried sage leaves or powdered sage
Dried thyme
3 ½ tablespoons butter
1 pound brown or white mushrooms
2 medium russet potatoes
2 medium sweet potatoes
¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
Sea salt or table salt


Prep and assemble these ingredients-

For the beef-

1 pound lean ground beef
2 teaspoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves minced or use garlic press
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons tomato sauce
¼ teaspoon sea salt or table salt to taste
½ cup of beef broth


For the carrots-

13 medium carrots, ends removed, peeled, sliced in half lengthwise, cut into coarse dice. You will have about 3 cups of carrots.
1 garlic clove minced or use garlic press
½ teaspoon dried sage leaves or ¼ teaspoon powdered sage
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon sea salt or table salt to taste
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil

For the onion-

1 large brown onion, stem ends removed, peeled, cut into coarse dice
1 tablespoon butter
½ tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt or table salt to taste

For the mushrooms-

1 pound of white or brown mushrooms cleaned and sliced. You will have about 4 ½ cups.
½ tablespoon butter
½ tablespoon olive oil
½ garlic clove minced or use a garlic press
¼ teaspoon sea salt or table salt to taste


For the potatoes-

2 medium Russet potatoes, peeled, sliced and cut into medium size chunks
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, sliced and cut into medium size chunks
½ teaspoon sea salt or table salt to taste
1 tablespoon butter


Fill a 4 quart pot with about 3 quarts of water. Add ½ teaspoon salt. Add potatoes and bring water to a boil. Reduce heat to keep a low boil and cook potatoes for about 15 minutes.

While potatoes are cooking add 2 teaspoons of olive oil and 2 minced garlic cloves to a 12 inch skillet. Turn heat on to medium; add beef and ½ teaspoon salt. Use a wooden spatula to break up beef. Brown beef until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Drain any grease from pan. Return pan to stove top, turn heat to medium-low. Add 2 tablespoons flour, stir to combine and cook for about 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce, stir to combine. Add beef broth stir to combine. Cook on medium, stirring often until most of the liquid is absorbed. Taste, add salt if necessary. Pour cooked beef into 2 quart baking dish, cover with foil, set aside. Wash skillet.

Drain cooked potatoes and return to pot. Mash potatoes with1 tablespoon butter. Taste, add salt to potatoes if necessary and mash to incorporate. Put lid on pot and let rest.

Return 12 inch skillet to stove top. Add to skillet 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 minced garlic clove, dried sage and thyme. Turn heat on to low and stir ingredients until butter melts. Add carrots and stir to combine. Sprinkle salt over carrots and stir to combine. Cook carrots on medium-low for about 6 minutes, stirring often. Add 2 tablespoons beef broth, stir to combine. Cover skillet with lid. Cook carrots, stirring from time to time until just tender about 12 minutes longer. Pour cooked carrots over cooked beef and spread carrots to cover beef evenly. Cover with foil. Set aside.

Return skillet to stove top and add 1 tablespoon butter, ½ tablespoon olive oil and ½ minced garlic clove. Turn heat to medium and melt butter. Stir melted butter into oil and add coarsely chopped onions. Stir to combine and add salt. Cook onions stirring often for about 6 minutes or until they start to turn a golden color. Pour onions over carrots in the baking dish and spread to cover evenly. Cover with foil. Set aside. Wipe out skillet to remove any onions.

Return skillet to stove top and add ½ tablespoon butter, ½ tablespoon olive oil and ½ minced garlic clove. Turn heat to medium and melt butter. Stir to combine butter, oil and garlic. Add mushrooms. It will seem as though you have a mountain of mushrooms, but don’t worry they will cook down to half their size. Stir to combine mushrooms with butter mixture. Sprinkle salt over mushrooms. Cook, stirring often for about 10 minutes or until mushroom liquid is cooked off. Pour mushrooms over the onions and spread evenly to cover onions.

Sprinkle the ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese evenly over mushrooms.

Spoon large dollops of the potatoes over the top of the Parmesan cheese. Fill a medium drinking glass with hot water. Dip a tablespoon from your flatware drawer into the hot water and use the rounded side to smooth the potatoes over the top of the parmesan to cover pie completely. Sprinkle the remaining 3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese over the top of the potatoes.

Cook the Cottage Pie in the pre-heated over for about 28 minutes or until the potatoes are lightly browned in spots. If you have assembled made-ahead cold components, you will need to heat the pie for a longer period.

Remove pie from oven and let rest for about 10 minutes. Use a large spoon to scoop out servings. Place on plates or in bowls. Enjoy!

Erin Walgamuth has been an assistant Food Stylist for television and print for the past 26 years and writes this column using her own recipes. Check out her other creations in our Hometown Recipe section.

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Hometown Recipes: Cottage Pie

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