I’m a negligent mum, taking off right at dinnertime thrice this Sunday-Monday-Tuesday to make myself presentable and go eat and call it part of my job. (Sunday and Monday is-was like a pub crawl, only with steak and no boom-box-bus. Tomorrow I’m going to dinner at Rouge. Don’t hate me.) And so I made a pot of something yummy the boys could dip into in my absence.
A cottage pie is a shepherd’s pie, made with beef instead of lamb. Which is how most of us make shepherd’s pie nowadays, but if I were to post this as shepherd’s pie I’d almost certainly open up my inbox to a barrage of emails saying “that’s not shepherd’s pie! Shepherd’s pie is made of lamb! Get it? Because of the shepherds and their lambs… which they apparently eventually eat.)
You could, of course, start with ground lamb and be perfectly safe in calling it shepherd’s pie.
You could also take liberties with the vegetables that go into it – sauteed mushrooms are sublime (unless you have a 6 year old who recoils at mushrooms), or parsnips with the potatoes that go on top. You can totally mess with the veggie elements without changing its identity.
Someone on Twitter just suggested I call it cow pie. Now there’s a good idea. Forget cottage pie – let’s call this cow pie!
Anyway. It’s a good thing to have in the fridge to dip into whenever you need to.
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 can or 1 1/2 cups beef stock or broth
2 Tbsp. tomato paste or ketchup
a couple glugs of Worcestershire sauce
2 carrots, diced
1/2 cup frozen green peas
salt and pepper
4 large potatoes, peeled (or not) and diced
1/4 cup butter
1/4-1/2 cup milk
a big handful of grated cheese (old cheddar is fab)
Preheat oven to 375F.
In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, cook the ground beef and onion until the onion is soft and the beef is no longer pink. Sprinkle the flour overtop and stir to distribute it, then pour in the beef stock, add the tomato paste and Worcestershire, and stir to blend well. Bring to a simmer and cook for a minute or two, until the gravy thickens. Add the carrots and peas, season with salt and pepper and pour into a baking dish that will accommodate it.
Meanwhile, pour cold water over the potatoes in a medium-large pot and bring to a boil. When they’re very tender, drain and mash them (rough or smooth) with the butter and milk and spread over the beef mixture. Scatter the grated cheese overtop. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden and it’s bubbly around the edges.