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Cottage Pie or Shepard's Pie?

Cottage pies ready for the freezer
Cottage pies ready for the freezer!

What's the difference? Either one is delicious and can be made as a make-ahead meal.

Cottage pies are made with beef, pork, or a combination of these. Shepard's pie is made with lamb. At Clean Slate Farm we prefer cottage pies with beef as it is more readily available.

They are simple to make and while mashed potatoes are the norm for the crust you can use a traditional crust as well.

To use this recipe as a make-ahead meal simply put the mix into small pie tins and pipe the mashed potatoes on. Let cool to room temp then refrigerate until cold and move them to the freezer until frozen. I like to vacuum seal them individually then pop them back into the freezer. To serve, take them out and let defrost in the refrigerator for a few hours. You can also cover them with aluminum foil and bake at 400 F until a thermometer reads 120F when inserted in the middle. Remove the foil about 10 minutes prior to them finishing up for slightly crunchy mashed potato topping.



  • 3 lbs. russet potatoes

  • 1/2 cup half-and-half, or whole milk

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • kosher salt, to taste

For the meat filling:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, or olive oil

  • 1 cup chopped onion

  • 1 cup carrots, peeled and diced small

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 1/2 pounds ground beef, with ground pork if desired

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 1 cup chicken broth

  • 2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves

  • 1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves

  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper


  • Peel the potatoes and chop into 1/2 cubes. Put in a medium sized pot and cover with cold water, turn heat on high and cover. When the water boils turn heat down to simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until a cube can pierced easily with a knife.

  • In a small sauce pan or in the microwave warm the butter and half and half.

  • Drain potatoes and return to the saucepan to let some of the moisture evaporate. Mash the potatoes and add the warmed half and half and butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper and continue to mash/stir until smooth and creamy. You may need to add a bit more warmed half and half. You can also stir some corn into the mashed potatoes, about 1/2 cup.

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

  • Heat a lArge sauté pan or cast iron skillet over medium hight heat and add the vegetable oil. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and carrots and sauté for about 3 to 4 minutes then add the garlic and cook for another minute.

  • Add the meat, salt and pepper and cook turning and stirring until cooked through, about 4 minutes. Spring the flour over the top and stir in well. Cook for about one minute more.

  • Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir well. Let this come to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer stirring occasionally to let the sauce thicken.

  • Now add the corn and stir well to incorporate evenly. Place mixture in to the pan or pie tins, distributing evenly. There is enough to make eight mini 5.75” wide, 1.25” deep mini tins. This mix will generously fill a 9” x 12” pan.

  • Pipe the mashed potatoes onto the top(s) starting at the edge. I use a star tip for the visual effect. Try to seal the edge with the potatoes.

  • Bake for about 25 minutes or until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

  • If freezing for make-ahead dinners let cool completely then freeze and vacuum seal and put back in freezer immediately.


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