Recipe: Corned Beef Cottage Pie

This is a good recipe for those of us on a tight budget as we pay off the excesses of the festive season.
In the cold desperate months we need something warming, stodgy and full of calories.  Here is an old favourite of mine.

You need the following:

  • One onion, roughly chopped.
  • One large or two small leeks, roughly chopped.  (If not leeks, try celery)
  • A handful and a half of mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • One tin of corned beef.
  • One large or two small carrots, peeled and chopped
  • Six medium sized potatoes, peeled and diced
  • Three dice sized butter knobs
  • Tomato paste
  • Good quality dark beer, approximately one cup
  • A handful and a half of grated cheddar cheese
  • Crushed good quality ready salted crisps
  • Whatever herbs and spices you like, and seasoning
  • Beef gravy (Use powdered or granules)


One large wok, one vegetable chopping board and knife, two sauce pans, one large oven dish, the usual spatulas


  1. Add some sunflower oil to a pre-heated wok and fry the onion and leeks.  While they are ‘sweating’, add water to a large and a smaller sauce pan.  Boil the potatoes until soft, and the same with the diced carrots.
  2. Once the leeks and onions are soft and slightly brown, add the sliced mushrooms and continue to fry.  Open the can of corned beef and divide it into rough chunks with a knife.   Add it to the wok and continue to cook, hacking it down to smaller pieces with a spatula.  It will slowly melt and dissolve on it’s own.
  3. Add a cup of beer, a tablespoon of tomato paste and whatever herbs, spices and sauces you prefer.  This can largely depend on what you have in your larder.  I chose black pepper, oregano, brown sauce, salt and a little Cajun spice.  Don’t be afraid to add what you think will work.
  4. Once the carrots are soft, drain the water and add them to the wok.  Stir in slowly.  Then add a cup of beef gravy.
  5. When the potatoes are nice and soft, drain them off and add them to a large dish.  Add the butter, a teaspoon of salt and a good couple of twists of black pepper.  Mash it down good and proper until it is mixed well and nice and smooth.  If you have a potato ricer, even better.
  6. Remove the meat and vegetables from the wok and layer in the base of a good quality large oven dish.  Make sure it is even, and pushed right into the corners.
  7. Take two tablespoons and carefully add the mashed potato on top.  Don’t worry too much if it sinks a little.  Use a fork to carefully smooth it over until it covers the meat and vegetables completely, right up to the edges and corners.
  8. Sprinkle a good handful of grated cheese and another of crushed crisps over the top of the potato.
  9. Set your oven at 180 degrees centigrade.  After about five minutes place the pie in the middle of the oven and cook for 20 minutes, checking regularly.

Remove from the oven and allow to set for five more minutes. Serve in a dish, possibly with bread and enjoy!

 By chef Nick Gilmartin who can be contacted on @Nick1975 or find out more here.