Cottage Pie

Your culinary terminology factoid of the day is:

A Shepherd’s Pie is made with Lamb.

A Cottage Pie is made with Beef.

I know. I know… Grocery stores regularly sell frozen “Shepherd’s Pie” and they’re made with beef. Many restaurants have Shepherd’s Pie on their menus – and they’re made with beef. Google Shepherd’s Pie and the first recipe shown is made with beef, although the next one – Alton Brown’s – is made with lamb.

Good ol’ Alton. He makes a sciolist proud.

But regardless of what you call it, meat and vegetables covered in mashed potatoes is really good stuff. And really easy to make.

As I was cooking dinner yesterday, I was already planning a _______ pie for tonight. My first thought was a small casserole dish, but when I started, today, I thought individual pies might be better. We have those two small pie plates that always look too small for anything – until I start filling them. They’re actually really big and hold a lot – but my mind tends to hearken to pre-portion-control days, causing doubts. After today, I may, finally, be over it. We shall see.

There are as many ways to make this dish as there are names to call it, so I grabbed what we had on hand and went for it. The concept is also a great way to use up leftovers.

Cottage Pie for Two

  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped leeks
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 oz mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • thyme
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 potato, boiled and mashed
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese
  • buttered breadcrumbs

Sauté onion and leek in a drizzle of olive oil until wilted. Add garlic and quickly mix in. Add ground beef and cook through. Add brandy and cook until evaporated. Set aside.

Sauté mushrooms in a drizzle of olive oil until they are browned and give up their juices. Add a half-cup of red wine and reduce by half. Add beef broth and reduce by half.

Mix mushrooms with beef mixture and heat through, adding salt, pepper, and thyme, to taste. Thicken with a bit of cornstarch, if desired.

Place into individual casseroles, if you have them.

Cottage Pie

Meanwhile, mash potatoes and mix in shredded cheese. Spread on top of meat mixture and top with buttered bread crumbs.

Cottage Pie

Place in a preheated 350°F oven for about an hour – until potatoes are well browned and filling is hot.

This was good and it did not disappoint! The mushrooms add a lot of meatiness which means a smaller amount of beef is needed. The onions and leeks add a sweetness, and the splash of brandy and wine add a nice little back flavor without really identifying themselves – they just add to the overall richness of the dish.

And it was also just a tad too much! Granted, I could have finished it, but…