A Taste of Travel looks at the ways food connects us with a culture and each other. Sharing the recipes and restaurants we have encountered along the way… 

Filled pastry dough is a culinary tradition found in most cultures: think pierogies, dumplings, and empanadas. The English have a knack for filling puffed pastry with stew-like fillings, the best known being the crescent shaped pasties. Traditional shepherd’s pie uses only lamb (makes sense, right?). Any other meat filling is considered cottage pie. My version of a cottage pie pocket is a great way to use up leftover meat, mashed potatoes, and vegetables. Make a bigger batch in advance, then freeze them individually. They last up to two months and can go directly from freezer into the oven. Great for a quick dinner.

Cottage Pocket Pies

Prep Time: 20 minutes/ Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings



1 package Pepperidge Farm puffed pastry sheets


For the filling

1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon, olive oil

1/2 pound extra-lean beef (or lamb), minced

1/2 cup beef (or lamb) stock

1 tablespoon tomato purée

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 ounces carrots and/or parsnip, diced & steamed for 3 minutes

2 ounces fresh green peas, blanched

1 1/2 cups cold mashed potatoes

1 ½ tablespoons mixed dried herbs: parsley, oregano, or thyme; (mint with lamb)

1 egg, beaten for washing pastry

Salt to taste


Cook onion in the oil for 5 minutes, add the garlic for 1 minute. Brown the ground beef (or lamb) for 2-3 minutes with the onions & garlic. Stir in the stock, tomato purée, and Worcestershire sauce and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes until the liquid has evaporated.

Remove from the heat. Add the separately steamed peas, carrots and herbs to the meat. Salt and herb to taste. Blend together and let cool. Heat oven to 400F.

Unroll the pastry and cut each roll into even squares. Divide the mash between the squares and top with the mince meat-veg mixture, leaving about 1/2 inch from the edge for sealing top layer of pastry.

Dampen the edges of the upper pastry, top each square with equal sized square of pastry and press the edges firmly together to seal. (You can freeze at this point for up to 2 months. Defrost completely before baking.)

Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, brush with egg and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden. Be sure not to overcook pastry, as the filling is already pre-cooked at this point. Cook according to pastry directions.

English Cottage Pockets