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Traditional Scottish Pie (with a twist)

by Sergeant Fred Cooper from Cooking with Heroes, The Royal British Legion Centenary Cookbook (St. James’s House publishing)

All proceeds from the book go to support The Royal British Legion

My variation of the traditional Scottish pie has a light topping combining the traditional accompaniments of neeps and tattties (swede, which the Scots call turnips, and potatoes). A friend of mine, also ex-Army Catering Corps, has a food van in Florida called the Café Rouge and, once a year, he participates in the large Scottish festival there; many years ago, he asked me for a recipe so I came up this Scottish pie variation and, still to this day, it is enjoyed by the American Scottish folk of Florida and beyond. Relished by many at those Scottish festivals it is equally as good at home for a hearty family meal or event.


Preparation Time: 1 hour

Cooking Time: 40 minutes

Serves 6




For the pie filling

1½ tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, finely diced

1 large carrot, finely diced

1 large stick of celery, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped

750g course minced Angus beef, best quality you can get

40g plain flour

40g tomato purée

1 Oxo beef stock cube (or any other decent quality beef stock cube)

125ml red wine

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp dried thyme

Salt and pepper


For pie topping

1 large swede, peeled & cut into 1cm dice

1kg Maris Piper potatoes, peeled & cut into even pieces

1 large knob of butter

Salt and pepper




For the pie filling

  • Heat the oil in a casserole or heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat, add the onion, carrot and celery, season with a little salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes until the vegetables have started to soften. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another minute.

  • Turn up the heat to full, add the minced beef and cook until browned.

  • Reduce the heat to medium, stir in the flour and tomato purée and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.

  • Crumble over the stock cube and stir in the red wine, Worcestershire sauce and dried thyme; bring to a simmer and season with salt and pepper.

  • Turn the heat to low, cover with a lid and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes (add a splash of boiling water if the mix becomes too dry).

For the pie topping

  • Whilst the filling is cooking, bring a large saucepan of cold water to a boil with a generous pinch of salt, add the swede and potatoes and cook for 20 – 30 minutes until both are cooked through; drain through a colander, return the cooked swede and potatoes to the pan and shake over a low heat to dry them out.

  • Mash the swede and potatoes (or pass through a ricer), mix in the butter, season with salt and pepper and set aside until you’re ready to top the pie.

To cook the pie

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.

  • Fill a suitable baking dish or shallow casserole with the filling and set aside to cool for 15 minutes.

  • Spread the neeps and tatties over the top of the filling and cook in the preheated oven for 40 minutes until the top of the pie is golden brown.

  • I recommend serving my Scottish pie with some seasonal greens such as tender-stem broccoli or spring greens both go great together with the pie.


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