Cottage Pie

Apples for Jam Cottage Pie

Winter is fast approaching here in Melbourne. As the temperature drops, the clouds darken and the kitchen becomes a welcome place of comfort and warmth. What better way to feed such desires than a cottage pie? I’ve been making this for many years and have yet to receive any complaints. It’s easy to increase the quantity and freeze the spare pie for rainy day!

From my understanding, Cottage Pie, similar in origins to Shepherds Pie, was first made to use up ingredients left over from the weeks roast. Cottage Pie uses beef, rather than lamb. It’s also called a pie, but there is no pastry involved in this version. The top is a lovely crust of mashed potatoes.

This recipe is inspired by Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros. What I love most about the cookbook is the recipes are categorised not by ingredient but rather by colour. As with any recipe I have taken some liberties with the ingredients! This is one of two recipes I use depending on what I have in the house (the other recipe uses stock, instead of tomatoes.).  I intend on posting the other recipe eventually.

Using the quantities below this comfortably feeds 4 to 6 people. It can also be prepared the day before and kept in the fridge overnight.


  • 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 750 Mince Meat
  • 3 Tablespoons Dry White Wine (I use a Dry Vermouth)
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 400ml Puréed Tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 basil leaves torn
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Parsley
  • 100g peas
  • Carrots
  • Mushrooms
  • Zucchini
The original recipe only calls for peas. However, I can never bring myself to make the pie with just peas. I also use what’s on hand. In this case I used, peas, carrots, mushrooms and zucchini. I’ve also made it with it successfully with eggplant.
You’ll also need a quantity of mashed potatoes. I don’t weigh the potatoes, usually just picking a number based on the size and how many people I am feeding/size of the dish. Tessa recommends:
  • 1.1kg Potatoes
  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Nutmeg

You will also need:

  • Shredded Cheese.
  1. Peel then boil the potatoes.
  2. Use 1-2 tablespoons of oil and cook the mince meat for about 10 minutes. You’ll want to stir it to remove any large clumps and to ensure it evenly cooks through. Once browned, add the Vermouth/Dry White wine and cook until the liquid has evaporated. Take the meat out of the fry pan and place it on a plate that has been covered with a paper towel. I like to remove any excess fat from the meat.

2. While the meat is cooking, chop up the onion, garlic and vegetables.

3. In the same fry pan, add the remaining oil and gently sweat the onions. Add the garlic and remaining vegetables and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the bay leaf, parsley and basil.

4. Add the tomatoes and allow to cook for around 5 to 10 minutes. Add the beef back to the fry pan, cover and allow to gently simmer for 15-20 minutes.

5. Prepare the mash potatoes (using as much butter and milk as y0u desire). Once mashed, I like to add about 1/3 of cup of shredded cheese/and or parmesan to make it a lovely cheesy mash.

6.  Take the fry pan off the heat, and transfer the mixture to a suitably sized oven proof dish. Evenly distribute the filling. Add the mashed potato on top, taking care to ensure the meat is covered. If you chose not to add the cheese to the mash potatoes, I’d recomend sprinkling with some parmsesan cheese to give the potatoes a lovely crust.

7. Cook in a Moderately to hot (180C) oven for forty minutes. If it looks like the top is browning too quickly, cover with foil.

8. Serve with a simple garden salad and a lovely glass of red if you are so inclined.

9. Enjoy!

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