Sunday, November 4, 2012

Cottage Pie

Have you ever read a book where a meal was described in perfect detail and you felt as if you were at the dinner table?  Does a character in your favorite TV show go on about their favorite dish?   After years  of  Red Dwarf and watching Lester devour chicken vindaloo, I decided to give it a try (but that's another post).  P.S. totally delicious.

Often this is how my evening menus come together.  This weekend has been a Masterpiece Theater/PBS type of weekend.  I watched almost two seasons of Upstairs Downstairs and wouldn't you know it they mentioned cottage pie a time or two.  After a little digging online, I found a few recipes and some background history.  According to Wikipedia, "The term cottage pie is known to have been in use in 1791, when the potato was being introduced as an edible crop affordable for the poor (cf. "cottage" meaning a modest dwelling for rural workers)."  Can you imagine  teaching people that potatoes are edible.

On to the recipe part!  I tested this recipe on my picky eater (aka man of the house), but I had to modify it since he does NOT eat mashed potatoes...What the....
My recipe is based on Martha Stewart's Cottage Pie with a few modification to utilize what was in my pantry.

Rustic Cottage Pie
Servings: 4


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced 
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 large carrots, diced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 pound ground beef or lamb
  • 3 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup dark (porter) beer or beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup frozen green beans
  • 2 large russet potato, very thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large skillet, heat butter over medium. Add onion carrots, garlic and cook, stirring often, until onion is soft, 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir in tomato paste. Add meat and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until almost cooked through, 3 minutes. Add thyme, Worcestershire sauce and beer(or beef broth) and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring frequently, until slightly reduced, 2 minutes. (At this point, I poured out access oil - leaving about tablespoon).  Sprinkle flour over mixture and stir to combine. Slowly add 1/2-3/4 cup water, stir and cook until mixture thickens, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in peas and green beans and season with salt and pepper.

Transfer mixture to a 2-quart baking dish. 

Thinly slice the potatoes using a mandolin or a sharp knife.  In a medium bowl, combine potato slices with salt, pepper, fresh thyme and olive oil, gently toss to season the potatoes   Top the meat mixture with potatoes, overlapping slices. Bake until potatoes are browned around edges and tender when pierced with a knife, 40 minutes. Place under the broiler for 5 minutes or until the potatoes crisp.  Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.

And for you visual folks- here is the recipe at a glance.

I asked my honey to take a picture of the final product because we all know how great my camera skills are.  Well, this was the artsy version our meal.

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