Most people call this dish “Shepherd’s Pie”. Period.
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:
- Cheap. It can be as cheap as you need it to be… however…
- 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)
TAKIN’ IT UP A NOTCH…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”)
TAKING IT UP A NOTCH:
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.
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).