Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cottage Pie

Continuing on the trend of making recipes from my cookbooks (and less from the interwebbings and other such means), we made Gordon Ramsay's Cottage Pie on Thursday. This dish is fantastic for a winter evening, warm, filling, and heavy on the comfort food of the Husband's childhood, beef and potatoes. In fact, we commented to each other that it was like a grown-up version of mushed up hamburger, a long-time favorite of his. Of course, in Cooking for Friends, Gordon uses ground lamb to make Shepherd's Pie. In this recipe, either beef or lamb works, and apparently the use of beef changes it from Shepherd's Pie to Cottage Pie. Either way, it's very good. We've added celery from time to time, too. A green salad would be a great accompaniment if desired.

Ingredients - Filling
1 pound ground lamb or beef
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, minced or grated (I find chopping the vegetable into sizable pieces then adding them to a mini food processor creates a great size for this dish)
1 large carrot, minced or grated
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste (we have some in a tube in the fridge so we don't have to open - and subsequently waste - a can every time we need just a bit)
1 cup red wine
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
leave from several thyme sprigs
leaves from one rosemary sprig, chopped
2 tablespoons minced Branston Pickle (we don't use this regularly, mainly because it's hard to get Branston pickle here)

Ingredients - Topping
1 1/4 pound baking potatoes, cut into chunks (we used yukon gold)
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons hot milk
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, and more for topping
2 extra-large egg yolks

Use a large cast-iron or heavy pan over medium to high heat. Season the ground lamb or beef with salt and pepper, and brown in a little oil. Transfer the meat to a bowl using a slotted spoon. Add some more oil to the pan, and add the onion, garlic, and carrot. Stir frequently until vegetables are a golden brown.

Add the flour and tomato paste, and stir for a few more minutes. Add the wine, and reduce, scraping the bottom of the pan to get the flavorful brown bits. The wine should reduce until the pan is almost dry.

Add the chicken stock and bring it to a simmer. Return the meat to the pan and stir in the Worcestershire sauce and herbs. Turn the heat down to the lowest (or almost lowest) setting and simmer until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened (he says 30-40 minutes, we let it go for about 30).

As the sauce is thickening, cook the potatoes in boiling water until tender. Drain the potatoes and return them to their original pan over low heat to dry out a bit. Mash the potatoes (or use a ricer) into a large bowl. Add the butter, hot milk, and parmesan and mix well. Season to taste before adding egg yolks.
Preheat the oven to 350. If using, add the pickle to the meat mixture at this time. Pour the meat mixture into an 8-cup baking dish and top with the potatoes. I found it works best to start at the outside of the dish and work with small spoonfuls of the potato mixture. Once covered, top the potatoes with more Parmesan cheese and sprinkle with pepper. Bake until the top is brown and the filling is bubbling up around the sides. We baked it for 20 minutes then turned the broiler on for 3 more. Let it sit for a minute out of the oven, then serve.

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