I was invited to attend an International Christmas Party last weekend. The idea being each person was to bring a dish that represented their heritage. Being half German and half English, I had many choices of what I could make. In the end, I settled on a British favorite- Cottage Pie.
Cottage Pies are very similar to Shepherd’s Pies with the exception of the type of meat. A traditional Shepherd’s Pie calls for lamb whereas a Cottage Pie uses beef (or a combo of lamb and beef). Since this was an appetizer party, these mini pies made for a hearty and tasty bite.
Now, I will admit; the assembly of these little guys is a bit fussy. It’s not a difficult recipe to make and has a somewhat of a short list of ingredients. However, it does take some time to get all the items prepped/cooked and then the production of the mini pies goes fairly quickly. And since the assembly requires a bit of extra effort, you have full permission to take some short cuts. For example, if you want to use instant mashed potatoes or jarred gravy, go for it! So long as they are best quality. Also, if using “instant” ingredients be sure to taste the components separately before assembly as they tend to have more sodium then if made from scratch. No worries, simply adjust down the salt in all the other cooking areas.
These little pies can be made ahead and popped into the freezer for when you have unexpected diners dropping by for some holiday cheer. So clear your schedule for a couple of hours and put on the Christmas music! The end result will wow your guests and be well worth it.
What you’ll need:
- Savory Pie Crust
- Cottage Pie Filling (below)
- Hearty Quick Brown Gravy
- Creamy Mashed Potatoes
- Mini muffin tin (I used a Wilton 48-cup pan for efficiency of prep)
- Piping bag and a decorator nozzle tip (I used Wilton Leaf Tip #352 but a small star tip works too)
Cottage Pie Filling
1/2 pound ground beef (80/20)
1/2 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried ground sage
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup finely diced carrots
1 cup finely diced celery
1 cup finely diced onions
3-4 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 cup frozen peas, rinsed to thaw
Meat: In a large skillet on medium high heat, brown ground beef and pork. Whilst cooking, add spices and season with salt & pepper to taste. Remove cooked meats from pan and cool on a sheet pan lined with foil. Once cooled, transfer to a bowl for pie assembly.
Vegetables: In same skillet on medium heat, add diced vegetables (except for peas) and saute to cook through only. Be careful to not overcook or brown. The vegetables should be translucent. Add salt & pepper to taste. Remove from pan and allow to cool on another sheet pan lined with foil. Once cooled, transfer to a bowl for pie assembly.
Take pre-baked pie shells from the Savory Pie Crust recipe and lay out on a large sheet pan lined with foil. Put a small dab of the Gravy on the bottom of the shell. Then top with a pinch of Cottage Pie Meat filling, followed by a pinch of Cottage Pie Vegetable filling, then peas. Top with another dab of Gravy.
Using a large piping bag fitted with a leaf or star tip, pipe Creamy Mashed Potatoes onto top of each pie in a nice design. Sprinkle with cheese (optional) and then bake at 400F for 5-8 minutes just to heat through all the ingredients. Serve warm. Yields 48+ mini pies.