My Grandmother’s Cottage Pie

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Last week I posted my  Roasted potatoes with onions and bacon and mentioned that growing up, almost every Sunday we had a “Sunday Roast”. It’s a tradition that I think needs reviving – it’s easy, delicious AND it provides leftovers for meals during the week – which makes up for the humble star of the show – an eye of round roast.

Eye of Round roast isn’t a popular cut (do a search of recipe databases and you’ll see what I mean). It’s a shame really, because if it’s prepared well, its very good. Not only that, it is extremely lean, making it a great choice for those who are watching their saturated fat intake.  It’s also inexpensive, which makes it a great choice for those watching their food budgets too! Last, but certainly not least, is it’s a meal that doesn’t require a lot of tending or last minute work – which is perfect any time but for me, especially on Sundays when I really want to spend time catching up with my family.

This was my grandmother’s roast of choice for Sunday Roast – back then she didn’t “gussy it up” with onions and bacon – she just roasted it with potatoes and made a simple gravy –  a true testament to the fact that good cooking technique can turn even the simplest of ingredients into a delicious meal.

So, lets bring back the Sunday Roast!!!

Now that I have convinced you to make a Sunday Roast (with my potatoes of course!) what are you going to do with the leftovers?? Well, you could make roast beef sandwiches, use the meat in stroganoff or (my personal favorite), make a cottage pie!!!

This pie uses what my grandmother called a “hot water crust” – which amounts to melting butter with water in a saucepan and dumping in flour and salt. Stir it up and then roll it out – that’s all there is to it. Easy.

Ladies and Gentlemen… I give you Sunday Roast and Cottage Pie!

My Grandmother’s Cottage Pie
Prep time
Total time
I made this with only a top pie crust but the recipe makes enough dough to make a double crust pie if you wish! To make a double crust pie, simply roll out the dough, line the bottom of the pie dish and then continue on with the recipe! The yield on this depends upon how "hearty" your appetite is regarding the roast! If your family are big eaters, I'd recommend cooking two roasts - one for dinner and one for the pie! When thickening the sauce, start with two Tbsp.flour. If sauce is still too thin (doesn't coat back of spoon) add the additional Tbsp. of flour
Serves: 4 Servings
  • One 3 - 4 lb. Eye of Round roast
  • 7 Tbsp. canola oil (for both roast and cottage pie)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced into ¼ inch slices
  • 2 stalks of celery, cut into ½ inch dice
  • 1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 1 cup red wine OR additional cup beef stock
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 3 tsp. worcestershire sauce
  • 2 21/2 cups Eye of Round, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 - 3 Tbsp. flour
  • Hot Water Pastry
  • 10 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • ⅔ cup water
  • 2½ cups flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg mixed with 1 Tbsp. milk
  1. For the Eye of Round Roast:
  2. Pre heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat 4 Tbsp. canola oil over medium high heat in a small roasting pan Pat roast dry with paper towels (in order to get a good sear, the meat must be dry!). When the oil is shimmering (not smoking!) Add the roast. Let cook until roast easily pulls away from the pan and bottom is browned - about 3 - 4 minutes. Flip roast and sear the other side. Remove roast from the pan. Pour off all but 2 Tbsp. of oil. Return roast to pan and place, uncovered in the oven. Roast for 45 minutes until 1 hour until roast reaches 125 degrees - do not cook past this point otherwise roast will be tough.
  3. Remove roast from oven and let rest about 15 minutes. Slice thinly (1/4 inch thick) and serve with Roasted Potatoes, Onions and Bacon!
  4. For Cottage Pie:
  5. Pre heat oven to 400 degrees. In a large saute pan, heat remaining canola oil (2 Tbsp.) over medium heat and add the onions and carrots. Cook for about 6 minutes and add the celery. Cook vegetables until onion is translucent and vegetables can barely be pierced with a fork. Add tomato paste and cook until paste turns brown - about 2 minutes. Add the wine and then the beef stock, stirring and scraping up bottom. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Add worcestershire sauce and thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer until liquid is reduced to 1½ cups about 10 -15 minutes. Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. of flour and cook until mixture thickens.
  6. In a separate saute pan, heat 1 Tbsp. canola oil over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until browned. Set aside.
  7. While the sauce simmers, make the pastry. In a large sauce pan heat the butter and the water. Bring to a boil. Add the flour and the salt and stir with a large spoon until a dough forms. Dump out onto a cutting board lined with parchment paper. Top with another sheet of parchment and roll out pastry to a 10 inch circle that is ¼ inch thick - I used a 9 inch pie plate but if yours is larger roll pastry out to give you a 1 inch overhang. This recipe makes enough for either two pies with just a top crust or one pie with a top and bottom crust!
  8. To assemble ( for a one crust pie): Combine the meat, sauce and sauteed mushrooms in the pie plate. Roll pastry up onto rolling pin and gently place over the top of the pie. Trim excess pastry, leaving a 1 inch overhang. Fold up pastry to form edge, pressing lightly to seal pastry to rim of pie plate. Using a small cookie cutter, cut a small whole in the center of the pastry to let steam escape. Brush pastry with the egg/milk mixture and bake pie for 30 - 40 minutes until pastry is nicely browned. Serve warm!



  1. says

    Hi Nancy – Loved seeing your version of cottage pie – in England we call cottage pie a shepherd’s pie made with beef rather than mutton and topped with potato rather than pastry crust – so interesting how these recipes have developed over the generations.

  2. says

    You’ve got my vote for bringing back the Sunday roast! I have such fond memories of Sunday dinners at my grandparents’ house with a big roast (usually prime rib) with mushroom gravy. And my mom used to pick up an eye of round roast which we had with mashed potatoes and gravy and green beans when Sunday dinner was hosted at our house. Not only was it a great way to spend time with the family, the food was heartwarming and good. And it meant there would be roast beef sandwiches with iceberg lettuce and salt and pepper in my lunch box the next week!

  3. says

    reading this, it feels like fall. such a great alternative to beef pot pie! Personally, I am excited that the weather is changing and meals like this are going to be on my dinner table – thanks for this. also, that last photo is cook book worthy!

    • says

      Awww.. thanks Susan!!! I am pretty excited too about the change in weather. Of all the seasons, fall is my absolute favorite – don’t know if it’s the weather, the food, or both but I love it!!!

  4. says

    Eye of round is such a nice, lean cut. I should use it more often, too. Your pie looks delicious. I’m especially interested in trying the hot water crust since pie crusts and I have such a contentious relationship. I think I might be able to manage that one :-)

    And I’m all for bringing back the Sunday roast. Beef, chicken…whatever, so long as you have your family together enjoying a meal. I have such sweet memories of big Sunday dinners (that’s the noon meal in the South) with aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents all gathered together. So much talking all at once! And so much good food. And, of course, there was always a roast.

    • says

      Hi Lana!!
      This crust is incredibly easy to make and is perfect for savory pies (it would be great on Chicken Pot Pie!) Also thinking it would be great with some herbs added as well… ah… don’t get me started!!! It’s amazing to me that with all of our supposed “time saving appliances” we manage to have less time for things like Sunday Dinner… what is up with that??

  5. says

    What comfort food and I would imagine the kitchen smells heavenly while baking. I am going to suggest this to Howard for this weekend…he needs to add Grandma’s Cottage Pie to his repertoire!!!

  6. says

    I love it! Funny thing is I almost never make savory pies but for some strange reason I have been in the mood to make one. Nostalgia? Autumn? Who knows, but this is a wonderful change from the usual chicken pot pies. Love it!!

  7. says

    I love the idea that this recipe is budget friendly. Times are hard and every homemaker values every penny to be spent, of course without sacrificing nutrition and taste of every dish. You just don’t know how a recipe like this can help moms (like me!) all over the world…

  8. Alli says

    I live in Kent, just south of London and we still have roast dinner on a Sunday as soon as the weather is cold. The weather just turned this week, so it’s our first Sunday lunch – turkey, stuffing, crispy roast potatoes, carrots, peas and broccoli all smothered in gravy and maybe if my son asks nicely, I’ll make him some Yorkshire puddings :-)

    And like Lucy, a cottage pie to me is ground beef and vegetables in a gravy with a mashed potato topping, but that beef and vegetable pie looks amazing, my hubby would accept an invite to dinner with you in a heartbeat!

    • says

      Hello Alli!!

      So jealous – love London and Kent!! I can tell you my sons would love to be at your table – especially if there is Yorkshire pudding!!! I love the traditional cottage pie and my grandmother would make those as well – I honestly don’t know where this version came from – all I know is that it is good!! Thanks so much for stopping by the Table!!

  9. Linda from NJ says

    This looks delicious! and I appreciate and like eye roast. I’m saving and looking forward to making this in the very near future. Thank you for sharing!

    • says

      Hi Linda!
      I hope you enjoy the roast – it is very lean so the key is to not overcook it and to slice it thin – about 1/4 of an inch so make sure you are using a very sharp knife!!!

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