Cottage pie with a bit of a twist.

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Master of the Pit
Original poster
OTBS Member
Apr 22, 2011
Washington, DC
Cottage pie (beef) and Shepherd's pie (lamb) are particular favorites around here. Been making them for years, but over time I'd gotten bored with the mashed potato topping.
Back in October, I went on a camping trip with my old friend Blind Willie. On the way home, we stopped for breakfast at a Cracker Barrel. I hadn't been to one in probably 35 years, so figured we'd give it a shot. It was nothing to write home about. The one standout was the hash brown casserole. Holy cow that was amazing! As soon as I got home I looked up the recipe and made it. Tasted just like in the restaurant. Trouble was, as good as it was, there was just too much. A small serving is more than enough, and the recipe makes about 2 pounds.
Couple days later, the hash brown casserole was languishing in the fridge and the troops had been clamoring for Shepherd's pie. A lightbulb (albeit dim) switched on over my head. Why not use the leftover casserole for the topping? A new family favorite was born.

Let's start with the filling. Saute about a half pound of mushrooms cut into quarters and one diced onion.

Then add your ground beef. I think I used about two and a half pounds here, but the amounts aren't critical. Use however much you need for whatever you're going to cook it in.


After that's browned and drained, add your spices. I used about a tablespoon of smoked paprika and thyme, and about a teaspoon of black pepper.


Then it's gravy time. I used 2 cups of beef broth, 2 heaped tablespoons of flour, about a tablespoon each of Worcestershire and soy sauce and a splash of vermouth. I usually use sweet vermouth, but I was out so used dry. You can also use red wine, Guinness, or none at all. I've also added a splash of whisky in the past. Be creative. Finally, add about a quarter cup of ketchup. I've used tomato paste in the past, But I think the ketchup adds a more balanced flavor. I also add a bag of frozen peas and carrots and usually a couple tablespoons of capers but I forgot the capers this time. Let it simmer while you prepare the topping.


Now onto the topping. It's really simple.

The recipe calls for a 30 oz. bag of frozen hash browns, but I've been using these dehydrated ones for a while now and really prefer them. Plus, I'm told this is what Waffle house uses for their hash browns and if it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me. Basically, chop the onion, shred (or finely dice) the cheese, dump it all in a bowl with salt and pepper and a stick of melted butter and mix thoroughly. You can skip the butter. I've tried it both ways and kinda prefer it without the butter.
Then just dump your filling into your baking dish, spoon on your topping and toss it in a 350° oven for 45 minutes to an hour.

Going into the oven... (put it on a baking sheet, it likes to bubble over the side of the dish)


And coming out of the oven...


This was about 50 minutes. I could've let it go the full hour, but it was dinnertime and I was hungry. So onto the plate it went...


I hope you try this, it's really one of my all time favorite dinners.

Thanks for stopping by!
Nice meal and very different from how we make Sheppard's pie. Ours is made in three layers. Bottom layer Is the meat. Usually heavily seasoned ground beef, but if lamb can be found then it's used. 2nd layer would be a mix of cream and sweet corn, then topped off with a layer of mashed. I like the idea of hash brown and will give that a try next time around. Thanks for the idea. Also I don't think I've ever seen potatoes come in a milk container - pretty cool.

Point for sure
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We do cottage pie a lot, pretty much the same as you did although i use smoked cheese on top. Pretty much takes it over the top and worth a try. I also spice up the meat with some ancho and hot chili peppers, adds to the smokey taste.
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I should add I'd planned to do this in the smoker, but the weather wasn't cooperating. I'm dying to try it that way. I think it'll give the flavor a nice boost. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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