Cottage pie. It’s a staple comfort food. In my opinion, meat and potatoes is a signature classic and instant winner in any form it’s presented in, but I’ve taken that classic recipe, elevated it, and made it clean. My version isn’t quite as traditional as the original recipe, but I can promise you it’s delicious!
Fun fact: Cottage pie is often called or referred to as Shepherd’s pie, however a traditional cottage pie uses beef while a shepherd’s pie uses lamb. Similarly a Cumberland Pie can be made of either lamb or beef but it contains an extra layer of either breadcrumbs or cheese on the top. My version is a bit of a hybrid in that it uses ground turkey and a lot of veggies, plus I’ve shifted the cheese layer to the middle. I wonder what my pie would or should be called!
To make our dish we’re going to use potatoes, butter, ground turkey (which can easily be subbed with ground beef), olive oil, onion, garlic, carrots, butternut squash, spinach, peas, tomato sauce, beef (bone) broth, herbs and spices (basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper) and a blend of cheeses. Optional ingredients include Worcestershire sauce and raw organic brown sugar.
After we peel, wash, and slice our potatoes, we’ll boil them until they’re tender (about 15-20 min) before we drain them and add the butter, salt and pepper.
Once we mash the ingredients together, we’ll set the potatoes aside. This recipe does require a bit of multitasking. While the potatoes are boiling I typically use that time to make the meat filling. Then, while the meat filling simmers, I drain and mash the potatoes and shred the cheese.
To make the meat filling we’re going to to cook the ground turkey in some oil along with the dried herbs and spices.
Once the meat is no longer pink, we’ll add the onions, garlic, carrots, and squash, and allow it to cook (covered) for a few minutes.
Next we’ll add in the broth, tomato sauce, and if you’re using either, the sugar and Worcestershire sauce. After covering it again, we’ll let it cook on med heat for a few more minutes.
The squash should be softening up nicely by now. This is when we’ll add in the spinach and cover the pan. Allow it all to simmer for a few minutes, after which you can smash (squash?!) some of the squash pieces so that the sauce thickens up a bit and the natural sweetness and creamy texture of the squash is fully incorporated.
Finally, we’ll add in the frozen peas. By now the sauce should be nice and thick, but in the event that it’s not as thick as you’d like, you can add in a tablespoon or two of your mashed potato mixture and blend it in to really help thicken the sauce to an almost gravy-like consistency.
The meat filling should be allowed to simmer. (This is where we turn our attention to…)
…The cheese! Now, this layer is wholly optional. With just the meat and potatoes this dish is already a star, but I love cheese, and the cheesy middle layer makes this dish SO good! I like using a blend of cheeses, so feel free to use whatever you like or have on hand.
We’re on the homestretch. Now we just need to assemble it. Meat. Cheese. Potatoes. After ridging the potatoes with a fork, we’ll set it under the broiler for a quick moment to brown the top and voilà! We’re done! A deliciously decadent Cottage Pie chocked full of meat, veggies, and other wholesome ingredients. Now all that’s left to be done is cut yourself a piece and enjoy.
Wouldn’t you like a bite?
Ground Turkey Cottage Pie
Mashed Potato Layer
- 2 lbs potatoes (4-5 med potatoes) (peeled and sliced)
- 3 tbsp salted butter
- 1 tsp Himalayan salt (to taste)
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper (to taste)
- 2 tbsp extra light olive oil
- 1 lb ground turkey (or beef if preferred)
- 1 1/2 tsp dried mixed herbs (oregano, rosemary, thyme, basil)
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp cayenne powder
- 1/2 tsp Himalayan salt (to taste)
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper (to taste)
- 1/2 medium onion (diced)
- 2 cloves garlic (diced)
- 1/2 cup carrots (diced)
- 1/2 cup butternut squash (cubed)
- 1/2 cup beef (bone) broth
- 1/4 cup tomato sauce
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (optional)
- 1 cup raw spinach (chopped)
- 1 cup green peas (frozen)
- 1 tsp raw cane sugar (optional)
- 2 oz jalepeno cheddar (or pepperjack) (shredded)
- 2 oz cheddar/mozzarella (shredded)
- 2 oz fontina (shredded)
For the Potatoes
- Peel, wash and slice potatoes into 1 inch thick slices and add it to a pot of boiling water (ensure the potatoes are fully immersed in the water) Allow to boil until tender.
- Drain the water from the pot leaving the cooked potatoes in the pot. Add the butter, salt and pepper (to taste) and mash the potatoes until smooth.
For the Meat
- Heat oil in a large saucepan until the oil is hot but not smoking. Add in the ground turkey along with the dried herbs, paprika, cayenne, salt and black pepper.
- When the meat is no longer pink add in the onions and garlic and mix and allow to cook for 2 minutes.
- Add in the carrots and butternut squash and mix into the meat. Cover and allow to cook for four minutes until slightly softened.
- Add in the broth and tomato sauce (and brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce if using either). After combining to evenly distribute the sauce add the chopped spinach and cover and cook for ten minutes stirring occasionally. If the liquid is cooking off too quickly add more broth.
- Add in the green peas and combine.
- If the sauce isn't as thick as gravy, add in a tablespoon or two of the mashed potatoes and mix it in. Allow the meat to simmer and thicken for another 5-10 minutes.
- Adjust seasoning to taste.
Assembly and Baking
- Add the meat mixture to an 8x11 baking dish and top with the shredded cheeses (the residual heat from the meat will allow the cheese to start melting)
- Spread the mashed potatoes in an even layer over the cheeses.
- Using the tines of a fork, create a ridged grid over the top of the potatoes.
- Broil the cottage pie in the oven until the ridges on the potatoes are golden brown (approx 5 min).
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator in a covered or airtight container for up to 5 days.
- The use of the raw, organic brown sugar is to cut some of the acidity of the tomatoes. Though it adds a layer and undertone of sweetness to the dish it is entirely optional.
- You don't want the sauce to dry out, but you don't want it to be too wet and runny, by adding the mashed potatoes it helps to thicken the sauce up so the meat and all it's flavors melds and holds together well. However if you don't want to use the mashed potatoes, you can also use an arrowroot or potato starch (1tsp) slurry.
- All ingredients and elements are cooked when we get to the assembly point so there is no reason to bake the pie for any long period of time. The broil is my preferred option since it gets the top of the potatoes golden brown and dries it out enough to form a lovely crust.