Cottage Pie

Image: Marele van Zyl

Cottage Pie – A recipe that feeds a family and makes grandma happy

Get the family over. You’re about to feed them the ultimate Boerepastei or Cottage pie. The best they’ve ever had and even grandma will be proud.

Cottage Pie

Image: Marele van Zyl

Who doesn’t love a comforting cottage pie? Inspired by the recipe your gran used to make, our Cottage Pie is a real classic. In modern times, such a pie made with beef is called “Cottage Pie” and the very same pie made with lamb is called “Shepherd’s Pie”, obviously because shepherd’s herd and look after sheep. While the Cottage Pie originates from the United Kingdom, many South Africans still consider it a local treat. It was something that was considered a hearty home-cooked meal and many of us grew up looking forward to it. Give this one a try and you might just love it!

For this great recipe, you’ll be making a basic Italian-style bolognese with beef mince, tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, garlic, celery, onions and stock. To get the crispiest result, use a fork to score the top of the potatoes. It can be really therapeutic too. This recipe is made with love and that’s why we are sharing it with you.

Get the family over. You’re about to feed them the ultimate Boerepastei or Cottage pie. The best they’ve ever had and even grandma will be proud.

Cottage Pie Recipe

5 from 4 votes
Recipe by Marele van Zyl Course: MainCuisine: GlobalDifficulty: Easy


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The first step to enjoying a Cottage Pie with a South African twist is to gather all the ingredients. Here is what you will need:


  • 1 kg 1 Beef mince

  • 1 medium 1 onion (chopped)

  • 2 medium 2 carrots (chopped)

  • 2 2 celery sticks (chopped)

  • 1 can 1 chopped tomatoes in juice (400g)

  • 1 tbsp 1 tomato paste

  • 250 ml 250 beef stock

  • 2 tbsp 2 fresh thyme (chopped finely)

  • 2 tbsp 2 parsley (chopped finely)

  • 150 ml 150 red wine


  • For the beef
  • Pour a splash of oil into a heavy-based pan and heat it. Add the beef mince or soya mince and fry until it is browned. Use a wooden spoon to stir the mince around and make sure that it cooks through evenly. Once it is cooked, remove it from the heat and set it to one side.
  • Turn the heat down and add just a small amount of extra oil. Throw the onions into the pan and fry them up for at least 5 minutes, until soft and see-through.
  • Pour the wine and the stock into the pan and bring to a boil. Add the mince to this liquid, along with the tinned tomato and the tomato paste and then add the chopped parsley and thyme to the mix.
  • Turn the heat down, put the lid on the pan, and allow the mince to simmer gently for about 20 minutes. Stir every now and then to ensure it does not catch on the pan. When most of the liquid has cooked off, you can turn off the heat.
  • For the topping
  • Place the potatoes in a pot of hot water (salted) and bring to a boil. Once cooked, drain the water off and allow the potatoes to cool.
  • Next, mash the potatoes and then add the milk and the butter, blending both in with a wooden spoon.
  • Add the cheese and mix it into the mixture well.
  • Assembly
  • Choose a large oven-proof dish to use. Place the mince mixture into the dish and smooth it evenly on the bottom.
  • Carefully place your mashed potato on top and smooth it around evenly. Use a fork to create a peaked pattern on the surface of the mashed potato.
  • Sprinkle the top of the potato with Paprika and place it into the oven at 180°C to cook for 30 minutes.
  • When the potato peaks are browning and the mince mix is bubbling, your Boerepastei is ready to serve.


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