We have officially hit comfort food season. Read: cold (and usually rainy where I am). But that means savoury, hearty foods that smell amazing. Like Shepherd’s Pie.
Side note: Have you ever chosen to make a dish that happens to be someone’s favourite and is also a “national” dish from where they come from? Like said Shepherd’s Pie? It is a mildly daunting and ambitious task.
But I was up for it. With some help from Google and the Brit it was being made for, I cobbled together a recipe that was easy and delicious – thank goodness! I varied a bit with some ingredients – not the peas or Worcestershire Sauce, you don’t mess with those – so I can’t say it was traditional Shepherd’s Pie. And, really, it was Cottage Pie as I wasn’t using lamb. But, since I was informed the pie mix looked “authentic”, and it was then eaten with gusto, I can say it was a successful endeavour. It also passed the leftovers for lunch test – phew!
It can be as healthy or as decadent as you want it to be and it will make your kitchen smell fantastic. Stay warm, folks!
CITY 'COTTAGE' PIE
For the Mashed Potatoes:
- 1 1/2 to 2 pounds potatoes (about 3 large potatoes), peeled and quartered
- 4 tablespoons (half stick) butter – make sure is is soft
- 4 large garlic cloves – minced or finely diced
- 1/4-1/2 cup milk or cream – OPTIONAL but makes for creamy mashed potatoes!
- 1/4-1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese (OPTIONAL)
For the Pie Mix:
- 4-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil OR 4 tablespoons of butter
- 1 medium onion – chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 2-3 carrots – diced
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 8 white mushrooms – finely sliced (OPTIONAL)
- 1 1/2 lbs ground round beef
- 1/2 cup beef broth
- 1/4 cup dry white wine (OPTIONAL – for the mushrooms)
- Lea & Perrin’s Worcestershire sauce – to taste
- 1 small can (5.5 oz) tomato paste
- Salt, pepper, other seasonings of choice – to taste
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Do all your chopping and dicing.
- Place the peeled and quartered potatoes in medium sized pot. Cover with at least an inch of cold water. Add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until tender – about 20 minutes.
- While the potatoes are cooking, warm the olive oil (or melt the butter) in a large sauté pan on medium heat.
- Add the chopped onions and cook until tender, about 6 to 10 minutes.
- Toss in the carrots partway through the onion cooking time.
- OPTIONAL – Add the mushrooms with the carrots and pour in all or half of the white wine. Stir it up. Let everything simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
- Check on your potatoes.
- Add ground beef to the pan with the onions and vegetables. Cook until no longer pink.Toss in the peas.
- Add the Worcestershire sauce (be generous!), tomato paste*(optional, but amazing), and beef broth. Bring the broth to a simmer and reduce heat to low.
- Check on your potatoes.
- Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, adding more beef broth, if necessary, to keep the meat from getting dry. Season to taste with salt, pepper, dried herbs. Add more Worcestershire sauce if you are inclined – we were! Let everything simmer on low heat. Stir every few minutes. The longer you let it simmer, the more the flavour gets locked in!
- Check on your potatoes. (Yes, again.)
- When the potatoes are done cooking (a fork can easily pierce), drain the potatoes in a colander and put in a large bowl with the softened butter and the minced garlic. Mash to your heart’s content with a fork or potato masher. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- OPTIONAL – Mash in the milk/cream for super creamy mashed potatoes!
- OPTIONAL – Add grated cheddar cheese to the mix.
- Spread the pie mix in a large baking or casserole dish. Spread the mashed potatoes over the top.
- If you want to get crafty, use a fork to make some pretty peaks and patterns in the potatoes so that they get well browned.
- OPTIONAL – Sprinkle some grated cheddar cheese overtop before putting the casserole dish in the oven.
- Place in a 400°F oven and cook until browned and bubbling, about 30 minutes. If necessary, broil for the last few minutes to help the surface of the mashed potatoes brown a bit more.
- Let settle for 5 minutes before dishing out servings.
*TIP – For the tomato paste, open the top of the can so that it is a flap. Carefully open the bottom of the can all the way so that you can use it to push the tomato paste through the top in to the pan. Not going to lie, this blew my mind.
All food is comfort food. Maybe I just like to chew.
~ Lewis Black ~