Cottage Pie is an English/Irish dish that is kin to the more well-known Shepherd’s Pie, the difference being that Cottage Pie is made with beef, whereas Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb or mutton (Get it? Sheep?). Many folk make the pie with beef and call it Shepherd’s Pie, but today we’re going to try and be correct (for once), so we’re making it with beef and calling it by its proper name.
The term “cottage” originates in the late 1700’s when the potato was introduced as an affordable vegetable for the poor “cottage” folk thus the name “Cottage Pie” was created. And while it’s technically an English dish, MOST people make it with beef in America so we’re going to go ahead and use it to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day ok?
Confused? Me too!
Both the variations are topped with luscious mashed potatoes, and often cheese, and then broiled and browned as well. Today I’ll tell you about the Cottage Pie and how I made it.
You will thank me after trying it. It’s so delicious.
Start out by browning one and one-half pounds of ground beef in a large heavy-bottomed pan.
I like to use my potato masher to break up the meat. It does a wonderful job. I think I use it more for this purpose than for potatoes.
Once your meat is fully browned (about 6-7 minutes), remove it to a bowl and drain most of the grease out. Add in a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Chop up three medium-sized carrots and three celery stalks and also one onion. Also chop up 2 garlic cloves. I like my vegetables in this to be pretty finely chopped. Add everything but the garlic into the pot and stir them for another 5 minutes or so or until the vegetables have softened.
Stir in two tablespoons each of flour and tomato paste and go ahead and toss in the garlic.
Stir again for a minute or two and then pour in one cup of dark beer (like Guinness).
Of course you’d use Guinness right? It’s IRISH.
An interesting fact – the first time I made Shepherd’s Pie for Mr. Wonderful, I almost killed him and he accused me of poisoning him. For you see, he’s allergic to dark beer and I forgot I had added it into the dish.
He’s been distrustful of me ever since and I can’t say that I blame him. However in my defense I was thinking about how alcohol cooks out when you cook it and I figured that applied to whatever made him allergic as well.
Also pour in one cup of beef broth.
Bring this to a light simmer and let it cook down a bit until it’s nice and thick, kind of like chili.
When it’s nice and thickened up, add in a cup of frozen peas and some fresh or dried thyme (1 Tablespoon fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried).
Let this cook for about 2 minutes, then spoon it into a square 9 x 9 greased or sprayed baking dish.
Now add a tablespoon of salt to a large sauce pan and bring it to a boil. Add in two pounds of peeled and cubed (about one-inch cubes) yellow potatoes.
Let them return to a boil then reduce the heat to gently simmer them for about fifteen minutes, or until you can stick a fork very easily into them. Drain the potatoes and return to the pot and place back on the hot stove for just a minute or two to evaporate out any remaining liquid (stir!). Add in 2/3 cup of milk and 3 tablespoons of butter and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper and then mash away at them.
Spoon the potatoes evenly over top of the meat mixture in your pan.
Spread all the way to the edges to “seal” your pan so the filling won’t bubble up on top of your potatoes.
Bake this in a 400º for 25 -30 minutes or until the edges brown and the top crisps up. Alternatively when I’m in more of a hurry I turn on the broiler and pop the pan onto the top oven rack and let it broil, watching it closely until it begins to brown on the swirls and edges of the potatoes.
Remove from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving.
The filling is SO hearty and rich and the potatoes are crispy on the top and soft and creamy underneath.
This dish is just comfort food at its finest.
Make some Cottage Pie this week!
- ½ lb. ground beef
- 3 celery stalks, chopped finely
- 3 medium to large carrots, peeled and chopped finely
- 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped finely
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped finely
- 1 T. olive oil
- 2 T. flour
- 2 T. tomato paste
- 1 bottle dark beer (like Guiness)
- 1 c. beef broth
- ½ t. salt
- ¼ t. pepper
- 1 T. fresh thyme leaves, chopped
- 1 c. frozen peas
- 2 lb.s (about 5 large) yellow potatoes
- 3 4 T. butter
- ⅔ c. milk
- 1 T. salt
- ¼ t pepper
- Thyme leaves (for garnish)
- In a large heavy bottomed pot add ground beef and turn heat on medium-high. Use wooden spoon or potato masher to break meat up and cook until it's totally browned. Remove meat from pan.
- Add olive oil (leave the meat bits and browned bits in bottom of pan)
- Add in celery, carrots, and onion and saute for 5-7 minutes until vegetables soften
- Add flour and tomato paste, garlic, fresh thyme
- Saute 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently
- Add in beer and beef broth. Bring to simmer and cook 5 minutes until sauce has reduced
- Pour meat mixture into sprayed 9 x 9 pan
- Peel potatoes and chop into 1 inch cubes
- Bring medium sauce pan of water with the tablespoon of salt to a boil
- Reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes or until fork tender
- Drain and return to pan on stove to dry out, stirring for a minute
- Add in milk, butter, salt and pepper and mash
- Spread over meat mixture sealing edges
- Turn on Broiler and broil about 5-7 minutes until top gets brown peaks and edges and crisps
- Sprinkle more fresh thyme on top for garnish
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