While flipping through Joy of Cooking, I found a recipe for shepherd’s pie that looked appealing (and kid friendly) so I bookmarked it and decided to make it using half of the two pounds of ground beef I had bought today. I later learned that shepherd’s pie is technically, by definition, made with lamb and not beef so what I really wanted to make was actually a cottage pie. It piqued my curiosity a little since the name shepherd’s pie makes sense but cottage pie not so much. A little googling got me one answer, that cottage pie was actually the original dish, and for cottage pie back in the 1700s, sliced potatoes were used on top instead of the mashed potatoes we are accustomed to today. The sliced potatoes resembled the shingles on the roof of a cottage. Whether that’s true or not, I really don’t know. But it sounds good. Nonetheless I used mashed potatoes for this meal, making it a hybrid I suppose.
I preheated the oven to 400F and coated a pie dish with nonstick spray.
For the mashed potatoes, I peeled and quartered four medium russet potatoes and brought them to a boil in a pot of water on medium heat. I cooked them for 15 minutes until fork tender then drained them, reserving half a cup of the cooking water. I mashed them with a tablespoon of margarine and the reserved water, and a little salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a pinch of garlic powder and beat them with a wooden spoon until they were smooth.
Then for the filling I finely chopped a medium yellow onion, a celery rib, and a peeled carrot and cooked them in a large skillet at medium-low heat in a tablespoon of vegetable oil until they were softened, about 10 minutes. I added in a pound of ground beef and raised the heat to medium, cooking until it was browned. I added in a tablespoon of flour to help thicken the filling, then chicken broth, dried thyme, dried rosemary, nutmeg, and some salt and freshly ground black pepper and I cooked it for another 5 minutes on low heat.
I transferred the filling to the pie dish then smoothed the mashed potatoes on top. I dotted the potatoes with a tablespoon of margarine.
After baking for 30 minutes it looked like this.
Delicious!! It was a satisfying fall meal for all of us. Next time I think I would add a cup of frozen peas in to the ground beef mixture for some color (and to see if I could get my kiddo to eat peas in that form) and season the meat more, maybe with some dill or a bit more pepper.
Another great thing about this meal is that during the 30 minute bake time I was able to prep part 2 of Ground Beef Two Ways for another night. Stay tuned…
Ground Beef Two Ways: Part 1-Cottage Pie (adapted from Joy of Cooking)
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and quartered (about 4 medium)
Freshly ground pepper
Garlic powder, to taste
2 tablespoons margarine (if going dairy free) or butter, divided
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 rib of celery, finely chopped
1 pound lean ground beef (I used 93% lean)
1 tablespoon flour
3/4 cup chicken or beef broth
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
Pinch of ground or grated nutmeg
1/2 cup frozen peas (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Coat a pie dish with nonstick cooking spray
2. Put the potatoes in a pot of water at medium heat and bring to a boil. Then cook for 15 minutes more, until fork tender.
3. Drain the potatoes, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water and transfer to a bowl. Mash with 1 tablespoon margarine, the reserved water, and salt, pepper, and garlic to taste. Beat with a fork or spoon until smooth and somewhat fluffy. Set aside.
4. Coat a large skillet with the oil and add the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook on medium-low heat until softened, about 10 minutes.
5. Raise the heat to medium. Add the ground beef and cook until browned. Stir in the flour then add the broth, thyme, rosemary, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste (as well as any other seasonings you might prefer). Also add in the peas at this point, if using. Reduce heat to low. When it has thickened up a little, after about 5 minutes, transfer the meat mixture to the prepared pie dish.
6. Spoon the mashed potatoes atop the meat and smooth it out. Dot with the remaining 1 tablespoon margarine cut into small pieces.
7. Bake for 30 minutes. The top will be slightly golden.