Colcannon Cottage Pie

I was discussing food with a friend and he said that he likes colcannon and shepherd’s pie. So that sparked inspiration! I had a head of red cabbage that I needed to use and all the ingredients for cottage – not shepherd’s – pie, so this is what I made. Shepherd’s pie has lamb and is my preference, but I didn’t have any ground lamb on hand, so Cottage Pie it is! I used beef and pork, but all beef, all pork or all lamb is fine. I didn’t use enough cabbage, so I upped the amount in the recipe. I use things like Kitchen Bouquet and Maggi seasoning, which can be omitted, just use more soy and L&P worcestershire. ALSO, I used instant potatoes on purpose. I like that they are perfectly smooth and I can control the consistency easily. They also get a nice brown on them. You can certainly make your own creamed potatoes if you wish, just make sure they are not too loose if you plan on piping them like I did. The main recipe is for a large 9×12 casserole (8 servings), but it can be cut down to an 8×8 square (4 servings) by halving the recipe.

angelas colcannon cottage pie
Angela’s Colcannon Cottage Pie
angelas colcannon cottage pie

Angela's Colcannon Cottage Pie

Cottage pie is shepherd's pie, but made with beef rather than lamb. Colcannon is cabbage with mashed potatoes. These two together seemed like a no brainer! Delicious!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Irish
Keyword colcannon, Irish cottage pie, shepherds pie
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Author misangela


  • 9x12 baking dish
  • Large skillet
  • medium saucepan
  • gallon plastic bag


  • 1 Lb 90/10 ground beef sub lamb
  • 1 Lb ground pork sub beef or lamb
  • 1 large carrot, diced about 1/2 cup
  • 2 celery stalks, diced about 1/2 cup
  • 2/3 cup frozen green peas
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced a heaping Tbl
  • 1 medium onion, diced OR one large onion, dice about 2/3 cup, slice the rest into half moons
  • 1 small onion, halved then sliced if needed
  • 6 cups red or green cabbage, sliced thinly, lightly tossed with salt to soften before cooking cut into 2" pieces; cut cabbage into quarters before slicing; a mandolin is handy if your knife cuts are not consistent
  • 3 1/2 cups instant potato flakes OR sub 2# creamed potatoes, very smooth and very stiff for use in a piping bag
  • bacon fat optional but delicious
  • butter used in several places
  • 2 Tbl flour any kind is fine
  • 2 cups cream or half n half more or less, depending on thickness of potatoes
  • 1/2 cup sour cream more or less, depending on thickness of potatoes
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 Tbl red wine or apple cider vinegar for cabbage
  • 1 Tbl Kitchen Bouquet a browning sauce, amps up flavor of meat, optional
  • 1 Tbl Maggi seasoning another brown sauce for umami, optional
  • 2 Tbl Soy sauce I use Kikkoman Light (green cap); use more if omitting browning sauces
  • 3 Tbl L&P Worcestershire sauce more, to taste if omitting browning sauces
  • 1 Tbl curry powder optional
  • 1 tsp dry thyme
  • 1 tsp dry marjoram sub oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder optional, but gives deeper flavor
  • 1 tsp onion powder optional, but gives deeper flavor


  • As always, prep all the ingredients first. It will make the cooking go more smoothly. Especially on a multi ingredient recipe such as this one.
  • Cook meat layer first. In a large skillet, put a Tbl of bacon fat (or olive oil) over medium high heat. When fat is hot, add carrot, celery, diced onion and 2/3 of the garlic. Turn heat down to medium and sweat (not brown) the veg until soft, about 5 mins.
  • Break up ground meat. Push veg to the sides of the pan and add meat to center. Turn heat back up to medium high. Add about 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper to the meat. Stir and continue to break up meat as it cooks for about 4-5 minutes.
  • When meat has mostly cooked, add flour and stir all veg and meat together. Turn down heat to medium and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring. If it is getting very dry, add some of the soy sauce to loosen up. You don't want to burn the veg.
  • Add all the dry spices: curry, thyme, marjoram, onion and garlic powders. Stir.
  • Add liquids: kitchen bouquet, maggi, soy and L&P. Add frozen peas. You should have a pretty tight ragout. If it is still really dry, add some water until there's just a little sauce. You don't want it too loose, this is the base of your casserole. Check for seasoning.
  • Pour meat ragout into casserole dish that has been sprayed with food release (PAM). Make an even layer.
  • Now, move on to the cabbage layer. Wipe out or rinse the skillet and add 1 Tbl bacon fat (or butter) over medium high heat.
  • When fat is hot, add in the sliced onion, wilted cabbage and the remaining garlic. Sauté until onions are translucent and cabbage is cooked. Turn heat to medium to avoid burning. If it gets too dry, add a splash of water.
  • When cooked, season cabbage with vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Make second layer over the meat in the casserole dish.
  • Now the final layer: creamed potatoes. If you've made potatoes from scratch, make sure they are seasoned to your liking (WITH sour cream) and pretty tight. They need to hold a peak. Skip this next section about how to make instant potatoes. BUT do put sour cream in the potatoes!
  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Make instant potatoes. Put about 2.5 cups water into a medium (2 qt) saucepan over high heat with 4 Tbl butter. When they reach a boil, add potato flakes a little at a time, whisking as you go. Turn down heat to med. When the water is absorbed, add 2 cups of cream or half n half. Whisk in the liquid and whisk in remaining potato flakes. Remove from heat.
  • The potatoes should be very stiff. Add sour cream and whisk. You are looking for a thick consistency that will hold a peak. Adjust liquids to achieve this. Check salt level.
  • Put creamed potatoes into a gallon ziplock bag (or pastry bag if you have one). You can do this in two batches. Cut corner of bag off, making it about a 1/2 to 3/4 inch hole.
  • Pipe potatoes onto cabbage layer. I do round globs with peaks, see photo. If you want to be really fancy, you can use a pastry bag with a star tip. OR you can simply spoon on if you prefer. I like the look of the piped potatoes.
  • Spray potatoes with food release (PAM) to help them brown.
  • Bake casserole in oven for 30-40 minutes - until potatoes are browned.
  • Let rest 10 minutes before you serve it. ENJOY!