Tag Archives: ground beef

Is it Cottage or Shepherd’s Pie?

Most people call this dish “Shepherd’s Pie”. Period.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

There are food purists out there that will argue you on this, though… and here’s the real titles, as far as my research shows:

COTTAGE Pie= beef

SHEPHERD Pie = lamb

FYI… This is cottage pie.

This is common fare for us in the winter, and especially in the month of March around St. Patrick’s Day.  I know, I know… shouldn’t it have been corned beef and hash? Alas, this is probably where the other parts of my genetic make-up take over. Can’t stand corned beef.  So I this is a classic dish, British-Isles-Ish, that I feel good about eating on March 17th.

And yes, I’m late posting it. But I’m making it again in a week or so… so see. You don’t have to only eat it for St. Patrick’s Day.

I also love it for the following reasons:

  1. Cheap. It can be as cheap as you need it to be… however…
  2. You can definitely “take it up a notch.”

I would argue that “taking it up a notch” doesn’t really keep true to its roots in the British Isles, BUT, it does seem to better appease our American taste buds.


2 pounds Ground Beef
Potatoes – about 4-6 russet potatoes, preferably, peeled and chopped
2 tbl butter, 1/2 c milk (for making mashed potatoes)
2-3 tbl Butter (for saute veggies, as needed)
Sprinkle of ground sage
1 tsp thyme
1 Onion (small), chopped
4 Carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cups Peas
Splash of whiskey (for deglazing, but you could use additional broth instead)
1/4 c broth (or water)


One small can of tomato paste
Shredded cheddar cheese – about 1/2 cup


Preheat your oven to 400*.

Brown your beef and chop your veggies.  This is almost always my first step, because I like to use the fat leftover from your beef to saute the veggies… I’m big into waste not, want not.


While your beef is browning, bring a pot of water to boil for your potatoes.  Once it’s boiling, drop in your peeled chopped potatoes.  You are making mashed potatoes to top off the pie.

After the beef is browned, use a slotted spoon to remove.  If you can do it quickly, you don’t need to reduce to heat (keep the fat simmering).  Then, plop in your onions, carrots, sage, and thyme.  You may need to add more butter to prevent sticking.

After they’ve sauteed for about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper generously, but if you plan to use salted broth for deglazing and/or later in the recipe, just go easy if you don’t like things over salted.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

Once the onions and carrots are tender, put the beef back in with the onion, carrots and herbs, and splash your whiskey (you can use broth if no whiskey).  Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits at the bottom of your pan.  This makes the food divine.  I do not joke. Do not skip this step of deglazing!

I like to think using whiskey makes it more authentic. I mean, we ARE trying to tie ourselves to Irish, roots, aye?

Now add your peas. Fry up for a few minutes until they start to thaw.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

Add your meat and broth (or water) Bring to a boil and you want to ensure your peas are cooked all the way through if you’re using frozen (which is pretty much what I always do).  If you used canned you probably don’t want to cook as long as they don’t turn to complete mush.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

Once the liquid is reduced some, peas are cooked, dump your veggie beef mix in the largest pan you have.

Now, about this time, those potatoes are tender and falling apart in your pot.  Strain them, mash ’em up with butter and milk.


This is the only tricky part to the recipe: Dollup the potatoes around the beef and then spread it out, as if frosting a cake.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

Cover your dish and cook for about 20 minutes.  Peek at it.  If you’re using a clear glass dish, you should see the liquid boiling inside.  This is a good sign.

Uncover the dish, and put it back in the oven.  Let it cook for another 5-10 minutes.  This is really for however crispy/browned you want your mashed potatoes.  (The good news of course is that all the ingredients are actually cooked before you put it in the oven.  It’s entirely safe to eat, if you like.  This is just more about “melding the flavors.”)


Right before putting your beef+veggie mix into the pan, mix in one can of tomato paste.  Probably not authentically Irish, but I llllooovvveeee the flavor it adds.

After you’ve spread the mashed potatoes on top as described above, sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese on top of the potatoes and then cover.  When you remove your cover/lid/foil during the bake process, you can watch the cheese to how melty/brown you like.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

For THIS time, I added the cheese.  We can’t go wrong with cheese in this house.

This is what it looks like, pulled out of the oven after a total of 25 minutes (5 uncovered).

fter you've spread the mashed potatoes on top as described above, sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese on top of the potatoes and then cover.  When you remove your cover/lid/foil during the bake process, you can watch the cheese to how melty/brown you like.

This is what it looks like served, and about to be devoured, like the true Irish woman I am. I adore potatoes (check out this and this and this if you don’t believe me). I love them sooooo much.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real



Getting Toasty on a Cold Day: Chili

Chili is good for winter.  It’s alot like soup – that hot mix in your belly warms you up!  If you like medium heat, I have a “toasty” addition for this that will take this fairly mild chili to medium heat.  (And it still tastes great without the medium-heat addition!).  I like to top mine off with cheese. (Sour cream works well, too!)



1 pound of grass-fed beef
1 tbl oil (I used coconut)
1 chopped onion
1 chopped green pepper
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 c red wine (beer also works well … but I have a hard time finding appropriately sourced. Make sure the wine is DRY not sweet!)
1 28oz can of tomatoes (whole peeled or diced)
1 can of water – 28 oz
2 1/2 cups of cooked (properly prepared!) beans
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 chopped chipotle pepper *optional*
1 tsp of adobo sauce *optional*


Heavy pot or dutch oven
Slotted spoon
Wooden spoon


Melt the oil in your pot or pan, then saute your ground beef, breaking it apart as you cook it.  This will take about 10 minutes, depending on the weight of the pot, temperature of the beef, etc.  Cook it all the way through.

Once the beef is cooked, remove the beef from the pan with a slotted spoon.  You want the grease/fat to stay in the pan for the next step.

Reheat your oil/grease (if it cooled at all), then add your onion and green onion.  Saute for about five minutes.

Once the color is fading from your veggies, add the garlic.  It is important to add the garlic later as it burns easy.

Cook for another 2-3 minutes until the garlic becomes fragrant, and you notice the garlic might start to brown any minute.

Immediately dump your wine (or beer) in the pot and start scraping up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pain.  I find that the wooden spoon works best. (This process is called deglazing the pan.)

This is what it looks like when the steam/fizz starts to die off after dumping the red wine.

This is what it looks like when the steam/fizz starts to die off after dumping the red wine.

After the alcohol of choice has stopped sizzling/steaming, add back the cooked beef, cooked beans, canned tomatoes and water.  (What I basically do is dump the tomatoes into the pot, then fill the can up with water, and add that.)

You can also add in your spices – salt, chili powder.  If you a little heat (and the *smoky* flavor), add in one chopped chipotle and teaspoon of adobo sauce.  If you aren’t sure, but would like to give it a try, you can put only half of the pepper and half of the sauce and see how you handle it.

Let this stew at a slow boil for about an 45 minutes.  Check on it occasionally and break up those tomatoes with the back of your wooden spoon.  If you used diced tomatoes, this isn’t as critical as they are already in smaller bits.

Breaking up the tomatoes with my spoon.

Breaking up the tomatoes with my spoon.

After this has been cooked for about an hour, you may want to let it simmer on low for awhile.  How long you let it simmer is up to you — the longer, the thicker.  If you eat it right then, it’ll be more soupy.



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