Beef Short Rib Cottage Pie

Beef Short Rib Cottage Pie


Makes: 4

  • 4kg beef short ribs (also known as Jacob’s ladders)
  • 6 carrots
  • 1 leek
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 6 onions
  • vegetable oil
  • 4 star anise
  • 10g peppercorns
  • 100ml port
  • 300ml red wine
  • 3 litres brown Chicken Stock
  • 4 pieces centre-cut bone marrow (10cm long and cleaned of any sinew)
  • 1 bunch rosemary, to serve


  • 3 large King Edward potatoes
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 100ml milk
  • 50g butter


  • With a large knife, cut through the meat that lies between each the rib bone so that you have 8 pieces in total (or ask your butcher to do this for you).
  • Peel 2 carrots and trim the leek, then chop these vegetables into rough dice. Cut the head of garlic crossways in half. Pick the leaves from half of the thyme, leaving the rest as whole sprigs.
  • Peel and thinly slice the onions, and cook them with a drizzle of vegetable oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Don’t add any seasoning as you want the onions to caramelize completely – this will take up to 20 minutes.
  • Peel and thinly slice the 4 remaining carrots, and put them into a saucepan over a high heat with a splash of vegetable oil. Season with salt (to prevent the carrots from colouring too quickly) and add the star anise to the pan. Cook for 2 minutes, then turn the heat down to medium and continue cooking for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly, until the carrots just start to soften.
  • Make the mash. Peel the potatoes and cut into large chunks. Place the chunks in a saucepan of cold salted water, cover and bring to the boil, then boil gently for about 20 minutes until tender.
  • Bring the milk and butter just to the boil in a separate saucepan.
  • Drain the potatoes in a colander, then stand the colander over the saucepan for a few minutes so the potatoes steam in their own heat. Now mash the potatoes with a masher, or put through a potato ricer or Mouli, then fold in the hot milk and butter and beat well. Check the seasoning.
  • Put the mash in a piping bag if you have one, and set aside at room temperature until ready to use.
  • Preheat the oven to 150°C/130°C fan/gas 2. 


  1. Splash some vegetable oil into a very large flameproof casserole and place over a medium heat until very hot. Lightly season the ribs with salt and pepper, place in the pan and colour lightly on all sides. Remove and set aside on a wire rack placed over a tray.
  2. Place the empty pan back on the heat and add the roughly chopped vegetables, the peppercorns, garlic halves and thyme sprigs. Cook for 5 minutes or until golden.
  3. Pour the port and wine into the pan and allow to reduce by three-quarters. Return the ribs to the pan with any juices that have gathered in the resting tray, cover with the stock and bring to a simmer. Skim off any impurities, then cover the surface of the liquid with a ‘lid’ of parchment paper and place the pan in the oven. Cook for just under 3 hours until the meat is tender and falling off the bones.
  4. Remove the pan from the oven and leave to cool, then take the meat out and set aside. Pass the cooking liquid through a fine sieve into a clean pan and reduce by half, skimming off any impurities during the process.
  5. Remove the meat from the bones, discarding any sinew, and shred the meat into long strips with your fingers. Combine the reduced cooking liquid with the shredded meat, caramelized onions, carrots (without the star anise) and thyme leaves.
  6. Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas 7.
  7. Divide the mixture equally between 4 individual cast iron or earthenware dishes and place a piece of bone marrow in the middle. Pipe the mash around the bones (or use a spoon if you don’t have a piping bag) and fill the bones with sprigs of rosemary.
  8. Place the dishes in the oven and cook for 12 minutes or until the mash is golden. Serve hot, with the rosemary set alight.

The meat and vegetable mix can be prepared the day before serving and kept in the fridge. Or you can freeze it in individual portions for up to 3 months.