Cottage Pie with a Twist
Andy Anderson !
Cottage pie is a traditional English dish, and this is what the recipe is based on. I've added a few of my own touches... Like adding carrots, sweet potatoes, and garlic to the topping. As a matter of fact, this dish just begs for some experimentation.
- 1/2 lb
- yukon gold potatoes, peeled & medium diced
- 1/2 lb
- sweet potatoes, peeled & medium diced
- 1/4 lb
- fresh carrots
- 5 clove
- fresh garlic, medium sized
- 4 Tbsp
- sweet butter, unsalted
- 1/2 lb
- ground chuck
- 1/2 lb
- ground pork
- yellow onion, medium sized, diced small
- 1 lb
- mushrooms, button or cremini, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 1/4 c
- tomato puree
- 1 1/2 Tbsp
- worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tbsp
- hungarian paprika
- 1 tsp
- cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 1 c
- hot water
- salt and pepper, to taste
Note: The time here is based on how hot the water is, and how small you cubed your veggies. Have a fork close at hand. If the fork penetrates the veggie with little resistance, they're done, regardless of the time.
Note: If you have a food processor, and you're willing to use it, then the mixing of the garlic, and the potatoes and carrots for the topping will go much smoother, and the results will be more consistent.
Of course, there's a lot to be said for the mix-by-hand method... it makes the dish more rustic, and cottage pie by definition is rustic fare.
Note: A quick way to peel the skin off a piece of garlic is to give is a good smack with the side of a wide kitchen knife... WACK! The skin falls right off.
Note: As it's cooking, use a wooden spoon to break the mixture into small bits.
Note: You want about 3 Tablespoons of drippings in the pan. If you have more than that, pour out the excess into a small bowl. Then, as you're cooking, if you need some more, you can always add it back into the pan. If you're using real lean cuts of meat, and you feel that you don't have enough pan drippings, then just add a bit of olive oil, as you're cooking... But don't overdo it.
Keep an eye on the pan, so the onions don't burn... I hate it when that happens.
Remember during these last three steps (6,7,8) to keep the pan active. Stir, stir, stir. If things look they are cooking too fast, reduce the heat, or remove the pan for a minute to cool it down a bit.
Note: Cayenne is a fairly powerful ingredient, and some people don't take to it very well. As a matter of fact, if you haven't used this spice before just remember: A little goes a long way. As a matter of fact, if you want, just leave it out.
Note: whenever working with water, stocks and broths, you should never add a cold liquid to a hot mixture. The abrupt change in temperature; especially when working with meat dishes (proteins) can change the structure and taste of the finished dish... Remember to add it hot.
Note: One of my instructors at the CIA said to aways season with salt during the cooking process. Salt, and taste, she would always say. If you salt as you cook, the dish will taste seasoned... If you add the salt at the end, it will just taste salty.
Spread the mashed potato/carrot mixture over the top.
Note: If you have a pastry spatula, you can use it to spread the potato/carrot mixture over the top, and at the same time create some fancy swirl patterns.
Let rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes before serving to your hungry guests.
Note: As I learned in cooking school, presentation is important... The dish that I photographed this cottage pie in is an Emil Henry fluted pie dish. In this case it's a rustic, comfort food, served in a cool-looking pie plate... We eat first with our eyes.
On a cold Autumn evening, this dish is sure to warm the hearts and souls of your family and guests. I like using white serving bowls; to emphasize the colors of this hearty dish (we eat first with our eyes).
This dish, as described, is a dish that should be served family style... Nothing fancy here. Place it on the sideboard with a good crusty loaf of French bread (homemade, if you have the time), and a slab of good homemade sweet butter (butter is easy to make).
A nice bowl of salad greens, and some dressing wouldn't be amiss. And, if this is an adult party, how about a nice bottle of wine... Red, white, or blush, your choice.
Serve it in front of a roaring fire, and watch your guests go back for more... just make sure you have enough.
Enjoy... Keep the faith, and keep cooking.