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Winter warmer: Cottage pie

It’s been a while since I wrote something on this column. Thank you to everybody who came to my inbox asking about the silence. Unfortunately, I lost my grandmother in early April and it took a big toll on me. I’m much better now and so, here we go!

By Edith

The month of May is about to wrap up and winter is creeping upon us. The last few days have been cool as we saw some rainfall that usually comes with depressed temperatures. The elderly people around me are predicting that it’s going to be a rather unusually cold winter because they say rains before the winter season cause depressed temperatures. So, since we can’t be birds that migrate to warmer climates in winter, what better way to deal with these temperatures than to cook and enjoy warming winter food?

We are starting our series of winter warmers this year with a hearty cottage pie. Cottage pie is also known as shepherd’s pie in other parts of the world. The difference, however, is that historically, shepherd’s pie used lamb meat and cottage pie used beef. Today, that difference is not as remarkable as the dish’s name can be interchanged disregarding the meat used.

The term cottage pie was first used around the 17th century in England where the potato was being introduced as an affordable vegetable that could be eaten by the poorer in English society. The term cottage referred to their dwellings, which were not as big but were in fact cottages. In earlier years, the pie was made using leftover meat which was ground and mixed with vegetables and used as a filling in potato pie.

So, out with that little bit of history, let’s get going with our recipe for today.

Cottage pie


l1kg potatoes, peeled and cubed

l5 tablespoons margarine (or butter)

l1 medium onion, chopped

l1 small green pepper, chopped

l1 cup diced carrots

l1 cup peas, unshelled

l750g minced beef

l1 cup water (or beef stock)

l1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

l3 tablespoons cooking oil

lSalt and black pepper to taste


In a large pot, boil the potatoes in salt and water. When done, drain the water and leave to cool.

In a large pan, pour the cooking oil until hot, add the onion, carrots and green pepper. Saute until translucent and add the black pepper, about one teaspoon. Add the minced meat and cook until browned, stirring often and breaking down any lumps of beef. Add the peas and the water or stock. Add salt to taste and reduce heat, adding more water or stock if required.

Mash the cooled potatoes with the margarine or butter using a fork or potato masher. Add a little bit of milk for a creamier texture.

Pre-heat oven to 200°C. In a large greased glass or metal oven dish, spread the cooked minced meat. Spread the mashed potato over the top of the minced meat evenly.

You can use a fork to add some creative designs over the pie. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes. For the last five minutes, you can turn on the grill element to help the potato brown a bit. You can also add grated cheddar cheese and spread over the top of the mashed potato and this will spread and turn golden brown.

Enjoy with a nice garden salad.

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