Because taking a whole month off apparently still isn’t enough time for me to get my shit together. But instead of depriving you of delicious food I just got someone else to do my job for me. I promise that I have more stuff coming up for you this week but until then you get to see what my friend Max is cooking. I’m pretty excited that I get to eat this for lunch today, you should probably think pretty seriously about making if for yourself sometime soon.
Before we get to talkin’ about all of the yumminess, I would first like to express my gratitude towards Screw It blog for allowing me to share one of my favorite and most nostalgic meals. What is this meal you ask? Well, it is none other than cottage pie! This dish is essentially a magical harmonious dance between beef and mashed potatoes, presented in pie form. The simplicity and ease of this recipe, which is bursting with flavor is what brings me back, probably far too often.
Firstly, lets learn some facts and a bit of history. “Shepherds pie” and “cottage pie” are very similar except the former is prepared with lamb and the latter uses beef as the meat. Although, the majority of people are more familiar with “shepherds pie”, “cottage pie” is believed to have been around since the late 16th century, almost a century before shepherds pie was created. During this time the potato became a staple in the diets of the poor and many of their meals revolved around the edible tuber, including the “cottage pie”.
It is hard for me to be unbiased about cottage pie, because I have been eating it for more than twenty years and it has been by my side every time, but I DARE you to pair this dish with a nice Bordeaux blend on a cold winter night and not be completely satisfied.
For the meat filling:
- 2 pounds ground beef (85% lean, 15% fat recommended)
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 tbsp rosemary
- 1 tbsp thyme
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp sage
- 1 tbsp olive oil
For the potatoes:
- 1 ½ pounds russet potatoes
- ¼ cup half-and-half
- 2 ounces unsalted butter
- ¾ teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 can very young small sweet peas
- ¼ ounce butter
Peel potatoes and cut into a ½ inch dice. Place in sauce pan with cold water, make sure there is at least 1 inch of water covering the potatoes, and place on high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer, until the potatoes are nice and tender (~10-15 minutes). Place butter and half-and-half in a container and microwave for ~30 seconds. Once potatoes are finished, drain. Next, mash the potatoes while adding the half-and-half and butter slowly. Then add salt and pepper and combine. Finally, stir in the yoke until it is integrated.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the meat filling in a cast-iron skillet (non-stick skillet works too). Cook the ground beef over medium heat, making sure to break up the large clumps to insure everything cooks evenly. While cooking, if there is excess fat, spoon it out. Once the beef looks uniformly browned, add the chopped onions, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and sage and continue to cook until the onions are translucent and the meat is slightly crispy.
Add the meat filling to a 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish and top with the mashed potatoes. Spread the mashed potatoes starting from the edge, as to create a seal to trap in all of the yummy goodness while baking in the oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes. I like to finish off my pie with 5 minutes in the broiler on high, to give the top layer a little crunch.
While cottage pie is in the oven, prepare the peas. I like using the very small sweet peas, but you can use any type of pea. Heat peas in a small saucepan on medium heat until hot. Once done, drain and add ¼ ounce of butter.
Let cool for 10-15 minutes. Bon appetite!