From the United Kingdom to Ireland, Cottage Pies or Shepherd's Pies are synonymous with comfort food. The former typically features ground beef filling while the latter includes ground lamb. Otherwise, these names are pretty interchangeable for a ground meat base topped with mash. Regardless of what you call them, they are popular and delicious! This version yields adorable individual pies perfect for a party!
2poundsground beefor lamb if making Shepherd’s Pies
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ to ¾cupbeef broth or stock(use more for a saucier base)
In a large skillet, heat the olive over medium heat and then add the onion and carrots. Saute for about 7 to 8 minutes or until the vegetables have begun to soften. Add the garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and tomato paste, and stir to combine. Add the ground beef, season with salt and pepper, and cook the mixture, stirring well to break up the meat, until the beef is cooked through and no more pink remains. Add the flour and stir, followed by the beef broth. Cook the mixture for about 8 to 10 more minutes or until the sauce thickens and glazes the meat. Taste the mixture and adjust seasoning as needed. Stir in the peas and remove from the heat.
Lightly grease 12 (1 cup) ramekins. Evenly distribute the beef filling to the ramekins. They should be filled about ⅔ of the way.
Meanwhile, peel and roughly chop the potatoes. Add them to a pot and cover with cold water. Season the water generously with salt and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain the potatoes and pass them through a food mill or potato ricer to achieve the smoothest texture.
In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter together until hot and the butter has melted. Stir this into the potatoes and season with salt as needed (salting the water will already help to season the potatoes, so don’t go overboard here until you taste them first).
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip with the mashed potatoes. Decoratively pipe the potatoes into the ramekins over the meat mixture. Alternatively, spread the mashed potatoes over the tops, adding texture with a fork or spoon (this will help the tops brown in a more aesthetic way).
At this point, the cottage pies can be chilled and baked later on. If you are assembling them in advance, remove from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking to bring them back to room temperature. You may also have to bake them an additional 10 or 15 minutes longer to heat them through properly.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Set the ramekins on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the potatoes have started to brown. Some of the beef mixture may also start bubbling up the sides. Serve immediately.
Please note, these are small, individual cottage pies which were developed as part of an international buffet menu for an Olympics party. You can use small casserole dishes (larger than ramekins) to make larger individual cottage pies to serve about 6 people instead of 12.
Or follow the recipe and make a large cottage pie in a large casserole dish instead of individual ones. It will bake around the same amount of time until bubbly and golden. Broil for a minute or two if needed to get an extra golden crust.