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Recipe for traditional slow cooked cottage pie: slow cooker/crock pot

Traditional cottage pie

Traditional cottage pie

Ever since my mum was sent a box of meals from Abel and Cole I haven’t forgotten her comment when she reviewed the cottage pie.

“It was a really good traditional cottage pie with no fancy or far flung additions. Delicious!”
This was several years ago and I’ve been meaning to make a traditional cottage pie since then. Of course I wanted to see if my recipe came up to scratch the in A&C stakes as far as mu mum is concerned.

Yesterday I had minced beef in the fridge and as it was a chilly day I reckoned that cottage pie would be perfect for a comforting supper in front of a roaring fire. My first port of call was this article by Felicity Cloak in The Guardian. As she cooked five cottage pies to select the best ingredients for her very own recipe, this is a must visit article for the cottage pie aficionado. The comments are well worth reading too – lots of tips and tricks and a few veggie/carnivore skirmishes to add to the general thrill of the chase.

Then of course I had to check the ingredients of the A&C cottage pie!

I wanted to cook the meat and vegetable filling in the slow cooker as slow cooking really seems to enhance flavours. The recipe below is what I came up with. It’s very tasty and includes my secret ingredient which is added to most of my beef dishes these days – a finely chopped tomato.

Pressed for time I used a potato ricer to place the mashed potato gently on top of the beef and vegetables. I also took the wild step of adding grated cheese to the top as there was no fat at all in the mash. Thinking about it now I could have added a few small wedges of butter to the boiled spuds before they were put through the ricer. But the grated cheese topping tasted superb and was a good foil for the beef.

Recipe for traditional slow cooked cottage pie: slow cooker/crock pot for 4 hungry people.


The filling:

700g of minced beef (I used 12% fat)
1 small red onion (be wary of using a lot of onions in the slow cooker/crock pot as they seem to double their strength during the long cooking process)
3 large carrots – washed, peeled and cubed
3 celery stalks – destrung and sliced very fine
1 tomato chopped fine
400ml of hot beef stock – I used boiling water and two stock cubes
1 tsp of garlic granules
1 bay leaf
Half a tsp of dried savory (or thyme)
Quarter tsp of marmite
2 tbsp of mushroom ketchup
2 tsp of cornflour
A good dash of Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce – add in half tsp increments
Freshly ground white pepper to taste

The topping:
500g of potatoes
A tbsp of butter or a large handful of coarsely grated cheddar


Add the chopped carrots, sliced celery, tomato and onion to the slow cooker/crock pot. Crumble over the minced beef and stir well. Add the garlic granules, herbs and cornflour and stir well. Add the marmite, mushroom ketchup and a good dash of Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce to the beef stock (I used two beef stock cubes for this) and pour over the veg and mince in the slow cooker. Stir well.

Set the slow cooker/crock pot to high until the liquid is bubbling well – this usually takes an hour in our slow cooker. Turn down to low and simmer for a further three hours. The mixture is cooked when the carrots and onions are softened. The filling will keep warm in the slow cooker as you prepare the mashed potato.

Make up the mashed potato. Transfer the ingredients to a large warmed pie dish and dollop it on top of the filling and level the surface gently with a fork. Add the grated cheddar or some dots of butter to the surface of the mash and grill/broil under a medium heat until the surface is golden brown.

Serve on warm plates with green vegetables such as peas or beans.

True comfort food.

N.B. If you let the filling get completely cold and remove the fat and cover with plain mashed potatoes you will have a delicious fat free meal!



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  1. Just popped this into my slow cooker . I love that u haven’t got to fry the mince and onions first . Followed the recipe exactly apart from the mushroom sauce . Never heard of it and definitely haven,t got any so i was thinking of adding a tin of mushroom soup but decided to go with 2 tbsps of tomato ketchup and a handful of chopped musshrooms instead .. Dont usually comment until i’ve tasted the dish but the smells coming from this dish as i was stirring were amazing.. Don’t usually smell my dishes until they’ve been cooking for about a hour so can’t wait to eat this evening ..Thank u for posting this recipe .. I’ll comment again after we try it :))

  2. Hi Fiona,

    I browned off about half for a few minutes in the end, and it was lovely. we’re also both alive!

    I am far too scientific with recipes. more fool me.

  3. I must be doing something right because this is very similar to the one I make.. I also put tomato sauce in and a dollop of brown sauce as well Great way to get carrots into the kids.

  4. This is very similar to mine but I use a dollop of tomato ketchup and no celery, mushroom ketchup or marmite. I always put cheese on the top of mine too. Its a must in our household!!!!

  5. I agree true comfort food for sure. That looks like a lovely recipe you have come up with. I never think to do it in the slow cooker so will have a go at it tomorrow. I love all the old favourites that we used to have as kids you just can’t beat them. Thanks for sharing it with us Fiona.

  6. should i brown the mince off first? i only ask cos its already in the slow cooker..

  7. Looks good. My secret ingredient is a dollop of tomato sauce.

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