How to Make Cottage Pie or Ragu with Potatoes!


One of my students has a son who’s about to move to America. A discussion about Italians abroad led us somehow to talking about Giovanni Trapattoni and his experiences in Ireland. Then we went on to talk about Fabio Capello and his famous declaration in 2009  “I get to try typical English dishes like shepherd’s pie which is a kind of ragu with potatoes,”   How could we resist with keen cooks in the class, we had to try this ragu with potatoes!

We made cottage pie and not shepherd’s pie. 

Here are the instructions for Cottage Pie. I asked do you know the difference between cottage pie and shepherd’s pie.

Shepherd’s pie was traditionally made with minced lamb while cottage pie was made with minced beef.


Here are the ingredients (courtesy of Delia Smith) to help you:

 12 oz (350 g) lean minced beef
 1 large onion, roughly chopped
 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
 1 tablespoon olive oil
 1 level teaspoon mixed herbs, fresh or dried
 1 level tablespoon flour
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the cottage-pie topping:
 6-7 oz (175-200 g) potatoes
 a knob of butter
 1½ oz (40 g) grated cheese 
 ½ level teaspoon mixed herbs, fresh or dried

Chop the onions

Chop the carrots

Divide the minced meat into batches

Gently heat the olive oil and add the minced meat

Toss the meat around the pan until it is nicely browned

Once the meat is browned remove it from the pan

Fry the onions and add the carrots

Once the vegetables are cooked set them aside

Add flour to the  cooked minced meat to soak up the juices then add the vegetables, salt and herbs to the pot

Keep everything warm while you make the mashed potatoes

Arrange the minced meat on the bottom of a lightly buttered casserole dish with mashed potaotes on top. Don’t forget to grate some cheese on top for a tasty crust!

Voila! Serve piping hot  preferably with some green vegetables and a glass of good red wine!

Look at the British Council site
For more about food in England 
And for a shepherd’s pie recipe with one of my cooking heroes Gordon Ramsay

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