Sunday, March 17, 2013

For St. Patrick's Day: Cottage Pie

I love pub food. Bangers and mash. Guiness stew. Fish n' chips. Beer. Bring it on!

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, a holiday named for a very noble man, who brought Christianity to Ireland, I'll share a recipe for cottage pie, since potatoes seem very Irish, and it's likely you could find cottage pie on a menu in Ireland, if not somewhere in the Bristish Isles. I ramble. Is that a long enough run-on sentence?

And for those of you wondering (not that you are, but I'll tell you anyway), tonight my family will be dining on corned beef and cabbage - the official Irish American meal of the day. It's in the crock pot as I type. It's tradition here in our household, just as it was when I was growing up in my Chinese American home. We love us some multicultural meals. :)

Back to the cottage pie. So, many people know Shepherd's Pie - ground lamb with onions, carrots, and peas topped with cheesy mashed potatoes and baked in the oven. Well, cottage pie is the same idea, just using beef instead of lamb.

I had potatoes, garlic, ground beef, half a red onion, peas, carrots, and well...I had butternut squash. "Loads" of it, as my British friends would say. If you didn't know, butternut squash is the same color as carrots. They made great addtion in this recipe. It worked. I also had some Boursin cheese to use. And it's creamy enough to incorporate into mashed potatoes to make it special. Mmm.

So, that brings me to the first step. Mashed potatoes. Make them however you make them. I stick the cut up potatoes (about 5 red potatoes or 3 russets) into salted water and bring them to a boil, letting them simmer until the potatoes are fork-tender. Drain the water off and use a masher until the taters are smooth, adding a tablespoon of butter, about 1/2 cup of milk, and some Boursin cheese for extra flavor. Set them aside for later.

Next, the beef. Brown the meat until fully cooked. Use a slotted spoon to remove the meat from the pan and set it aside while you cook the vegetables in the same pot. You can either pour off the grease (if it's a lot, you definitely want to get rid of the extra fat) or use it to cook your veggies. I confess, I used it to cook. It was a little fatty, but it tasted good! Throw in a couple of cloves of minced garlic, onions, and the carrots and squash to brown.

I then added about 1/2 teaspoon each of ground sage and thyme. And salt and pepper to taste. I added the cooked meat back into the pot, threw in about 4-6 good dashes of Worcestershire sauce, and about 1/2 cup of frozen green peas.

After the peas were incorporated, I poured the whole thing into a casserole dish, topped it with the mashed potatoes, and sprinkled the whole dish with grated parmesan cheese. I baked it in a 350 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes, or until the top was golden brown and it was heated all the way through. It made enough for about 5-6 servings.

It's so delicious and easy. And it's a great way to use up those veggies! Happy cookin' and happy St. Paddy's Day. Stay safe!