Thursday, September 4, 2008

Last Night's Dinner #129: Cottage Pie

Here's one of Hillsy's all-time favorite dish - typically it's made with lamb (Shepard's Pie), but since I don't eat Lamb we usually have this version. Last time we had this was when he tried making it - let's just say there was room for improvement so I promised I'd give it a shot the next time around...

This is a pretty simple dish to make, as long as you're fairly organized and do things in a certain order. It's also one of those dishes where you need to trust your own senses and season accordingly.

This recipe was based off of Tea and Sympathy's recipe but I didn't really follow the measurements to a T. Always go with your gut!

You'll need:
~4 potatoes peeled and coarsely cut into chunks
a big can of peeled whole tomatoes
about a cup of beef broth
1 pound of ground beef (the leaner the better)
1 tsp of Oregano
2 bay leaves
1 tbs of Worcestershire sauce or more depending on how you like it
one small onion finely chopped
one medium carrot finely chopped
one cup of peas (fresh or frozen)
about 1/2-1 cup of milk or cream
1/2 stick of unsalted butter
salt + pepper to taste

1. Cut all the veggies as noted above.
2. Boil water for potatoes and add salt to the water.
3. Preheat oven to 350F.
4. Take out a square glass or ceramic baking thingy.
5. Gather the rest of the ingredients so it's all within arms reach.
6. Crush the tomatoes and set aside.
7. Transfer carrots and peas into a semi shallow pan and add a little bit of water so that it helps steam the veggies. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Drain and set aside.

Mash Potatoes (Topping)
Start by boiling the potatoes for the mash. Boil until fork tender. About 15 minutes. Drain. Then start mashing with a masher or with a fork. Add butter tablespoon at a time, and season with salt and pepper. Once you've added all of the butter, slowly pour in milk/cream. The amount you put depends on how you like your mash. I like mine sort of thick and fluffy. Make sure the seasoning is right. Set aside.

Sauté onions (a couple of carrots made their way into the pan!) in olive oil, once translucent add meat and chop up so that there aren't any big chunks of meat. Season with salt. Brown the meat.

Add crushed tomatoes, beef broth, oregano and bay leaves. Mix and allow to boil then simmer for about one hour.

You want it to go from soupy to a nice thick meat sauce - sort of like hamburger helper (you're lucky if you don't know what that is).

Be careful to mix every now and then, so the bottom doesn't end up burning.

Once the sauce/filling is nice and thick, no longer soupy - add the carrots and peas. Mix. At this point, you want to remove the bay leaves and also test the flavors. Do you need more Worcestershire sauce? More salt? Pepper?

Transfer the meat filling into your glass/ceramic container and carefully transfer the mashed potatoes on top using the back of a spoon.

Cook for approximately 40-45 minutes. You might want to set the timer for 30 minutes and check it out to see how it's doing. You want the top to have a nice golden brown.

This is sooooo good.


Harumi said...

That does look good. Thanks for sharing your recipe and tips on how to cook this.

'Cuz I Felt Like It! said...

I am, as always, amazed at the amount of pictures you take! I too take TONS of pictures (my friends call me the "picture whore"....nice huh?

Lately, I have thought of leaving my camera behind so as to not be tempted to take pictures of absolutely everything. Do you you ever feel like you're living life behind the lense of a camera? I'm starting to feel like I'm missing out on things becuase of it, but I can't seem to just put my camera down!