I love great simple food with pure flavours and this pie is just that, with the best spuds you can find for your mash, decent, flavoursome beef and a layer of moist spinach. Cottage pie has a long history and one that has always been about using up leftover meat to create a new and filling meal. These ones are easy and can be made well in advance and popped in the freezer until you need them.






Skill level

Average: 3.8 (19 votes)


  • 2 knobs of butter
  • 1 large chestnut or flat white mushroom, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • 400 g minced beef (see Note)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 250 ml (1 cup) red wine or stout beer, such as Guinness
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 300 ml beef or vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper, to season
  • 4 large potatoes, peeled
  • 1 tbsp grated cheddar
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • milk, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to season
  • a few handfuls of fresh or frozen spinach

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Heat a knob of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the mushroom, celery and carrot, and cook for 3–4 minutes or until browned. Add the meat and cook, stirring, for 4–5 minutes or until browned.

Add the tomato paste and stir well to combine. When the tomato starts to caramelise, pour in the wine and cook for 1 minute or until the booze has evaporated.

Add the garlic, Worcestershire sauce and stock, put on the lid and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent it burning on the base, for 30 minutes or until the flavours have developed.

Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until tender. Drain, return to the pan and mash with a knob of butter, cheese, nutmeg and milk to taste. Season with salt a set aside until needed.

Pour boiling water over the spinach in a bowl to blanch. Drain, return to the bowl and add a cube of butter (butter does taste so very well).

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Place the spinach in two 14 cm x 19 cm baking dishes and season with pepper. Top with the meat mixture. Make the mash layer by scooping blobs of potato onto the meat, then spread out. (You can pipe this mash, but who has the time to pipe mash on a weekday?) Place in the oven under the grill for 10–15 minutes or until your mash has some colour.

Serve with a beer, or wine if you like.



• Use mince made from chuck steak, preferably.


Recipe from Miss Foodwise by Regula Ysewijn with photographs by Regula Ysewijn.