Today is cold and snowy in New York. This morning I woke up to floating snowflakes, which degenerated into what felt like a rainfall of snow (snow with force!) and now it’s just rather gray and there are rumors of sleet. It’s days like today that I long for Spring and wonder why I moved North and East. And then I catch snowflakes on my tongue and remember that I freaking love seasons.
That being said, today demanded something warm and filling for dinner. Something that makes you feel like mom gave you a hug (Sickening, right? I know, I get all sorts of sentimental when it snows. Stick with me – there will be food.) And for today this feeling could only be achieved by what we Americans call Shepherd’s Pie but is known to the rest of the it-eating world as Cottage Pie. Who can say no to seasoned beef, gravy, carrots and a boatload of mashed potatoes? Certainly not me–so I didn’t.
This recipe is actually a mash-up (see what I did there? I’m so funny) of two member-submitted recipes on Jamie Oliver’s site as well as Alton Brown’s recipe. I added leeks to my mashed potatoes for a little extra kick. Alternately, you can add cheese to your mash or uncooked onions or mustard or horseradish or roasted garlic…really whatever you like. Potatoes are flexible and delicious.
Enough talk, on to the food!
Mish-mashed Cottage Pie
For the meat layer:
- About 1.5lb ground or minced beef (I used chuck, you can go leaner if you wish)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 large carrots, washed, trimmed and diced
- 2Tbs flour
- 1 c. beef stock
- 2.5tsp Worchestershire sauce
- 1Tbs tomato puree
- 2Tbs olive oil
- 1tsp freshly chopped thyme (I used dried)
- 2tsp freshly chopped rosemary (again, dried)
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1c. peas and/or 1c. corn (optional. I did not use them because I thought my roommate didn’t like peas. Variety is nice though)
For the mashed potatoes
- 1.5 lb potatoes (~4 good sized russets)
- 2 leeks, cleaned and chopped
- 1/2tsp white pepper and salt
- butter to taste
- splash of milk
Peel and cut the potatoes into a 1/2 inch dice. Place in a medium sized pot of lightly salted water and cook until tender. Drain well. Melt some butter in a medium sized pan. Add chopped leeks to pan, sweat until soft and translucent. Add a splash of beef broth and season with white pepper. Let simmer for a few minutes until soft. You can either mash these up a bit in a bowl or puree in a blender depending on how smooth you like it. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, leeks, butter and some milk and mash together with a hand-masher or a hand-mixer. Cover and set aside.
Heat a large non-stick frying pan with the oil and add the onion and carrots, cook until they start to take color. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the lamb, season with salt and pepper and cook until the meat browns. Stir in the flour and cook for about a minute more. Add stock to the pan, stirring, and add the Worcestershire sauce, tomato puree, thyme and rosemary. Season with some salt and pepper if needed. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until it starts to thicken.
Spoon the meat mixture into a large shallow dish and cover evenly with the potato/leek mash. Try to seal the edges a bit to make sure that none of the gravy explodes over the sides while cooking. Score or peak the top of the mash with a fork and dot the top with a little bit of butter or olive oil- these peaks will brown nicely. Place on a lined baking sheet and cook at 400F for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.