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Rescue Your Leftovers: Prime Cottage Pie

Disaster! You open up your fridge at the end of the holidays, and sometimes a phantom wings something from the dark depths beyone. Your fridge is so stocked with leftovers that you can’t even see the light, and you are stuck wondering just what the hell you are going to do with it all.

Worse, if you just close your eyes and pretend that the offending packets of wrapped aluminium don’t exist, your shelves will deteriote into a 7th grade experiment. One of the most cardinal sin of REAL food is the waste of that which you do not need.

Respect for food is a respect for life, for who we are and what we do. – Thomas Keller

So what the hell are we to do then? I opened my door last night and was greeted by leftover prime rib, the bones from the roast, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, beef jus, turkey, cranberry chutney, chicken, various cheeses in a macabre state of hackedness. (Hey, I don’t care if the dictionary says it doesn’t exist – you get the picture.)

It would not do to let all that go out the door. I once heard a saying –

When faced with a floor that looks impossible to clean, start with one tile, finish it perfectly, then move on to the next. ~ Anonymous

So here is that start; yesterday I chose the prime rib, bones, mashed potatoes, and mashed sweet potatoes. Here is a transformation to a comfort food that you would not expect from a cut of meat like prime rib. (Hey, you could even do this with a roast if you like, I just happen to have the Lah-ti-Dah prime rib!)

Prime Rib Cottage Pie (AKA pâté chinois in Quebec)

Serves 6


  • 1 medium onion, peeled, small dice
  • 1 carrot, peeled, small dice
  • 1 rib celery, small dice
  • 350 grams (12 oz) leftover prime rib
  • 6 leftover bones from the prime rib
  • 250 mL (1 cup) beef jus or gravy
  • 200 mL (3/4 cup) good red wine
  • 750 mL (3 cups) leftover mashed potatoes
  • 500 mL (2 cups) leftover mashed sweet potatoes
  • to taste kosher salt
  • to taste freshly cracked black pepper
  • 50 mL melted butter
  • to taste paprika


  1. Sweat the onions, carrots and celery together with a tiny bit of canola oil; cook for 5 minutes until translucent.
  2. Meanwhile, pick meat off of rib bones; chop into small pieces. I know this is a PIA, but trust me – it is worth it. You can save the bones for your next veal stock excercise. If not – freeze them anyway, because we will do it here one day!
  3. Remove fat from prime rib; cut the remaining meat into small dice. You can do what you like with the fat – I like to rub it on my face for those creamy looking cheeks. (I am not serious! Give it to your dog if you like.)
  4. Add meat to the pan; sweat for a minute or two to warm through.
  5. Add red wine; reduce to 1/10th. Do this gently or risk toughening the meat. That would not be nice, would it?
  6. Add jus, reduce until the mixture thickens and coats the prime rib like a gravy. If you do not already love the smells of this dish, go to the doctor now, because something is wrong with you.
  7. Combine potatoes together, careful not to completely combine the two. You would like to have some interest in the dish, no? Marbled looks better than orange. It might even be a conversation piece. Sure.
  8. Adjust the seasoning of the potatoes and meat mixture with salt and pepper. No going back now, so get it right. Does it need more salt? Pepper?
  9. Ladle the mixture into your serving dishes. You can either go big:
  10. large pate chinios

    You can go big. Notice the marbled effect? Conversation piece, or just plain laziness - You decide!

    or you can go individual:

    individual portions

    Look how small. One can pretty much serve two people, or maybe one hungry person. Notice the marble effect again. Loving it!

    Ah, looks like I jumped the gun with the pictures. You guessed the next steps:

  11. Cover the meat/gravy mixture with the combined mashed potatoes; smooth to cover the meat.
  12. Score the top with a fork; brush with melted butter. Don’t do it so hard you wreck your rows. Trust me, that sucks.
  13. Sprinkle paprika on top of potatoes.I said sprinkle, avoid clumps. One way is with a small strainer.
  14. Bake in 175 °C (350 °F) oven for 35-40 minutes or until the top is browned and the meat mixture is threatening to bubble through.

So, that takes care of a prime rib leftover. Do you have any ideas on what you would do with a leftover prime rib? Are you liking what you saw? Wondering what the fate of the turkey will be?

I would love to hear it in the comments.

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Rex December 29, 2009, 12:40 pm

    That looks awesome!! I am a huge fan of Cottage Pies. I am definitely going to have to make this.

    My go to leftover dish is pizza. I turn everything into a pizza. Maybe prime rib, brussel sprouts and mashed potato pizza on a dinner roll crust. Top with a strong cheese, like a nice Vermont sharp cheddar. With beef jus as the base instead of a red sauce.

    Bravo! Hope you had a Merry Christmas.

  • jasonsandeman December 29, 2009, 1:25 pm

    @Rex – I would dig into that pizza for sure! I can verify that there are no leftovers of the cottage pie, so something was done right there!

    I hope that your holiday season is rocking as well!

  • Kristin Bernardo November 28, 2014, 3:13 pm

    Great recipe! Just what I needed for my Thanksgiving leftovers – had both mashed and sweet potatoes, added my green-beans too. Perfect!

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