Traditional English Cottage Pie With Cheese and Leek Topping

Total Time
Prep 30 mins
Cook 30 mins

Cottage pie, like its opposite lamb number, Shepherd's pie, was the ingenious idea of housewives many years ago, in order to create another warm and comforting meal usually from the Sunday Lunch left-overs! Cooked beef or lamb were diced or shredded and sometimes the vegetables were added to the meat mixture - such as peas or carrots. This recipe uses raw minced beef, but you could use minced cooked beef if you wish, I have added it as an alternative. The leeks were always added to the mashed potato topping when I was growing up - it was another way of utilising the leftovers! A bit like a Bubble and Squeak topping. I am not a lover of peas being added in my Cottage Pie, so I have suggested them as an option - I always prefer carrots as the vegetable to be added. Try to use mature Farmhouse Cheddar cheese for the topping - a little goes a long way, as it is so strong in flavour. The cheese is very luxurious, but takes this simple and comforting pie to a higher taste level, in my humble opinion! Serve bubbling hot straight from the oven with steamed cabbage, carrots or any seasonal vegetables and a jug of gravy.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. To make the pie filling:.
  2. Fry the onions and carrots if using, in the butter or beef dripping until they are soft.
  3. Add the minced/chopped beef and cook for about 10 to 20 minutes or until the onion and carrot have browned and the minced beef has taken on some colour and is firm. (It also depends if you are using cooked or raw minced beef.).
  4. Season well with salt and pepper, then add the mixed herbs. Stir in the flour, and mix well.
  5. Mix the tomato puree and Worcestershire sauce with the stock and add it to the meat mixture, bringing it all to simmering point. Simmer until the stock has reduced by aboout a third, add the peas if using and take off the heat. Set aside whilst you make the topping.
  6. To make the topping:.
  7. Boil the potatoes in slightly salted water then mash them well, adding half of the butter and all of the milk gradually. Season to taste.
  8. If using fresh leeks, fry the leeks gently in the remaining butter, until soft and slightly coloured.
  9. Stir the cooked leeks into the mashed potato mixture and give it all a good mix.
  10. Assemble:.
  11. Put the meat mixture into a large and deep well greased baking dish and spread the potato mixture on top; then sprinkle with the grated cheese. You can also use 4 - 6 smaller pie dishes if you wish.
  12. Put into a pre-heated oven, 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for about 25 to 30 minutes until the topping is crusty, golden and bubbling.
  13. Serve with an assortment of fresh seasonal vegetables and a jug of gravy.
Most Helpful

Keeping with the leftovers theme, I made this partially with leftover pot roast, but I didn't have enough and added some ground beef too. I topped it with leftover mashed potatoes and used green beans instead of peas since that's what I had. I also used leftover gravy from the pot roast for the "juice" in the recipe instead of the beef broth. This makes a lot. I divided it up into two 9X9 inch pans, baked one and froze the other one. The potato, leek, and cheese topping was really delicious and totally made this dish!

Neohippie January 31, 2010

Thank you French Tart for another delicious recipe! The leeks truly make the potatoes sing! This is a keeper! I'll be using this recipe from now on!

Violet F. September 21, 2014

Absolutely brilliant. Carrots and parsnips in the beef, both red wine and a stock pot to make the stock, potatoes with skins, huge pile of leeks, coriander and Herbes de Provence as herbs.<br/><br/>You can also make a great vegetarian version by replacing the beef with 500g cooked Puy lentils or beluga lentils. They will tend to dry out the mixture more than fatty beef mince, so add the stock cube and just enough red wine at the same time, to keep the mixture moist and a little liquid at the bottom, like frying mince.

Chris Wilson UK April 26, 2014