Back in the kitchen last night, with a recipe we both have enjoyed in the past. Thanks again to our hero Ree, aka The Pioneer Woman, who continually shows us how much fun you can have in the kitchen. With minor alterations, this is our Cottage Pie (as opposed to Shepherd's Pie, which calls for ground lamb. Actually, we've made this at different times with pork, beef, turkey, and lamb and all seem to work just fine).
There are two distinct layers to this dish, both added before baking: the meat/vegetable lower layer, and the whipped potato upper. I started boiling the potatoes first, and by the time they were ready, the meat/vegetable mix was also ready.
6 good sized Michigan potatoes
2 cloves garlic
pinch of salt
one half brick of cream cheese
a cup of sour cream
one half stick of butter
pinch of black pepper
shredded Colby Jack
one pound of ground chuck
about two thirds cup diced carrots
about one half cup diced celery
one yellow onion diced
about one half cup diced green pepper
about four ounces sliced mushrooms
one bag and a half (we had a half bag in the freezer from a while ago) of Kroger frozen mixed vegetables
one large tablespoon flour
one teaspoon of fresh thyme
three tablespoons butter
one large tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
one cup of beef broth
one small can of tomato sauce
Chunk up the potatoes with skins on and boil with salt and garlic. When a fork goes in easily, drain the water, smash with a smasher, add the cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and pepper. They won't be as fluid as you normally like them, but the stiff consistency without milk is just perfect for this dish.
Simultaneously (or at the same time, if you will) brown the meat and drain the grease.
Add the carrots and celery and allow to soften - five or ten minutes. Then add the rest of the fresh vegetables for another five minutes or so.
Add the frozen vegetables, flour, thyme, butter, Worcestershire, broth, and tomato sauce.
Let this simmer until the liquid reduces - maybe ten minutes.
Pam up your favorite 13x9 bake pan, set your oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour in the meat/veggie mixture, then top with the potatoes. I also added a couple handfuls of Colby Jack to the top, and then baked until bubbly and the tops of the taters and cheese brown a bit. Mine went for 35 minutes.
The thicker potatoes tend to stay separate from the veggie/meat bottom - more so than when the potatoes are runnier. The tomato and tang from the Worcestershire bring a bold distinctness to this dish. And the vegetables stay firm if you don't overwork them before you bake everything.
Pax Christi vobiscum