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 lbyukon gold potatoes, peeled & medium diced
1/2 lbsweet potatoes, peeled & medium diced
1/4 lbfresh carrots
5 clovefresh garlic, medium sized
4 Tbspsweet butter, unsalted
1/2 lbground chuck
1/2 lbground pork
1yellow onion, medium sized, diced small
1 lbmushrooms, button or cremini, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/4 ctomato puree
1 1/2 Tbspworcestershire sauce
1 Tbsphungarian paprika
1 tspcayenne pepper, or to taste
1 chot water
·salt and pepper, to taste
How to Make Cottage Pie with a Twist
- Place the potatoes, carrots, and two cloves of the garlic into a pot of boiling, salted water. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
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.
- Drain and discard water, and then use a masher to mash the vegetables until mostly smooth. Season with salt and pepper, add three tablespoons of butter and combine. Cover the bowl, and set out the way... you'll need them a bit later in the process
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.
- Finely chop the remaining three garlic cloves and set aside in a small prep dish.
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.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt remaining tablespoon of butter, add the beef and pork, and then cook until browned, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Note: As it's cooking, use a wooden spoon to break the mixture into small bits.
- Remove the beef from the pan (leave drippings in the pan), and set aside.
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.
- With the pan set to medium-high, add chopped onion, and cook in the drippings until translucent, about 5 minutes.
Keep an eye on the pan, so the onions don't burn... I hate it when that happens.
- Add mushrooms, and cook (stirring occasionally) until golden, about 10 minutes.
- Add garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
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.
- Return the browned beef/pork and any juices back to the pan, and stir in the tomato puree. Let cook an additional 2 minutes. Stir, stir, stir.
- Add the cayenne and paprika, and stir for about 1 minute.
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.
- Stir in Worcestershire sauce, and one cup of boiling water. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper as mixture is cooking.
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.
- Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch square baking dish, or an 8-inch round pie dish.
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.
- Bake in a preheated 450f (230c), until the juices are bubbling and topping is golden brown in spots, about 20 minutes.
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.