Adventures, Cooking, Food Exploring, london, Recipes, Winter Recipes

Food Exploring :: Cottage Pie with Winter Lager

Over the last few years, I’ve been on a number of adventures around the world that have opened my eyes and inspired me to think in different ways. A lot of these adventures have inspired valuable lessons that have stuck with me, and others have inspired recipes as well! That gave me the idea to start a new series, which I’m calling “Food Exploring.” Once a month, I’ll dust off one of these adventures and share what lessons and recipes that particular adventure inspired!


There’s nothing that matches the comfort of good pub grub in cold weather.

It’s food that gives you a hug from the inside. And every time we make something like this, I think back to the cold morning we hiked around Stonehenge and explored villages in the English countryside, and then came back to Ffiona’s restaurant and the surrounding neighborhood to tuck into food made with market fresh ingredients, as rich as needed but nicely unpretentious.

This isn’t one of the recipes we had there – I’m still working on more recipes inspired by that adventure – but it’s one of my very favorites for comfort grub.

Cottage pie is wonderful beef stew goodness covered in mashed potatoes and baked until the house is saturated with beautiful smells and you think of Guinness and fires in the fireplace and blustery cold rainy weather outside that you’re thankful as all get out to not have to be out in.

Some may say, “Oh, shepherd’s pie?” No.

Shepherd’s pie is the same idea, but with lamb. It’s actually the newer version – cottage pie predates shepherd’s pie by nearly 100 years.

And the version that has bread crumbs on top? That’s actually Cumberland pie.

You’d be surprised, but people can get sensitive about their pies and will take you to task if you mix them up!

Still, if you serve up a delicious minced meat pie on a cold blustery day with a pint of something tasty to accompany, whatever you call it, it’s going to be delicious!

Cottage Pie with Winter Lager

Serves 2 really hungry people.

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 shallot, peeled and chopped
  • 4 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 1 cup Winter Lager
  • 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2-3 large baking potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 2  + 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Irish cheddar
  • thinly sliced green onions for garnish

How to Make Them:

1. Place a large pan or skillet over high heat. Add olive oil and allow to heat. Season the ground beef with salt and pepper to taste and cook over high heat until cooked through and starting to brown. Remove from the heat, drain off the fat, and set aside in a bowl for later.

2. Put the pan back over the heat and drop in 2 tbsp butter. When the butter has melted, drop in the onion, shallot, and carrots, and cook 5-7 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the celery and cook another minute or so.

3. Return the browned meat to the pan and add the tomato sauce. Stir and allow everything to reheat and blend together for about 5 minutes.

4. Add the lager and Worcestershire sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil and let cook until the liquid has reduced by half. Add the chicken stock. When it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. The mixture should start to look thick and gravy-like. Keep simmering if it isn’t thick enough for your liking. You don’t want a runny pie.

5. Preheat your oven to 350F. While the oven is heating, cook the potatoes in a large pan – just covered with water and with a piled high teaspoon of salt – in boiling water until they are fork tender. Drain the potatoes and put them in a bowl. Mash, either with a fork or with a mixer. Add the 4 tbsp butter, heavy cream, and about 1/4 cup of the grated cheese and stir until creamy and mixed.

6. Ladle the meat mixture into the bottom of 2-3 large oven-safe stoneware bowls or large ramekins until they are about 2/3 full. Cover with mashed potatoes and sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the potatoes. You can always grate more if you want cheesier potatoes! Garnish with chopped green onion.

7. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the edges of the potatoes are golden brown.

8. Serve with a pint of lager and enjoy!

So what do you all think? Cottage pie vs. shepherd’s pie – what’s your favorite and why?

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