Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cottage Pie

Picture this: at least a foot of snow on the ground, wind blowing, the temperature is about 5 degrees with a wind chill of -10 or more. I am dressed in snow pants, wool socks, boots, ski jacket, stocking hat, and ski gloves (pretty much I look like a marshmallow or sumo wrestler). As I step out the front door, my dog is takes off down the side walk, running like that the white stuff is actually warm sand and the temperature is 70 degrees. He is not phased by any weather elements apparently. I am running down the sidewalk after him, chasing him while holding his leash. This is the life of Laura Russell two times a day for the past several weeks. I do not know if this is true or not, but it seems like the weather her has been colder with more snow than this same time last year. Usually I don't feel like we are in survival mode until late January or February, but that feeling has already arrived. Every day requires careful planning of wearing warm clothes, remembering to start the car early, and walking my dog Jake seems to take an extra 20 minutes of dressing and undressing.

With weather like this, warm, comforting food hits the spot. I am been preparing soups, stews, and chili weekly. I came across this recipe for cottage pie in Every Day Food. It is similar to a shepherd pie, but instead of mashed potatoes, there are slices of potatoes on top. It has all of the flavors that seem to warm you up on a cold winter night. The original recipe calls for ground lamb, but I have made this with ground turkey and beef. Also if you do not want to use beer, you could easily substitute some beef broth instead. Enjoy!

Cottage Pie
adapted from Every Day Food

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 pound ground beef or turkey
1 teaspoon thyme
12 oz dark beer
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup frozen peas
1-2 medium red potatoes, very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
coarse salt and ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high. Add onion, garlic, and carrots and cook stirring often, until soft, about 5-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir in tomato paste.
2. Add ground meat and cook with vegetables. When meat is cooked through, add thyme and beer and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring frequently, until slightly reduced, about 2-5 minutes.
3. Sprinkle flour over the mixture and stir to combine. Add 1/2 cup water and cook until mixture thickens. Stir in peas and season with salt and pepper.
4. Transfer mixture into a 2-quart baking dish. Top with potato slices, overlapping each other (they shrink while cooking). Season potatoes with salt and pepper and drizzle with 2 tablespoons melted butter.
5. Bake until potatoes are browned around the edges and the mixture is bubbling, about 40-45 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

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