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Perfect Cottage Pie

I've always called this recipe "Shepherd's Pie", but I learned recently that my label is a little off. I hadn't noticed until our buddy Alton used lamb while preparing this dish on The Food Network. I've never cooked lamb. I've never tried lamb. I'm sure it's excellent, and that day will come, but I wasn't about to throw myself into that experience this weekend. I chose ground beef instead to safe both time and money.

This meat switch apparently transforms the dish from Shepherd's Pie (get it? lamb?) to Cottage Pie. Fine by me, as long as it tastes just as well.

Alton Brown is one of my favorite guys on The Food Network. I've always enjoyed his show Good Eats. He has such a clever and entertaining way of teaching any type of audience about food. He makes it memorable. Even if he's just talking about squash or something, he makes it really interesting. He's a commentator on Iron Chef America, as well. Really good guy.

Today, I tried baking the Cottage Pie in little white ramekins, and then spooned what was left into a separate 2 qt white dish. Later on, we scooped out what we needed from the bigger dish, but for dinner, we ate them from the dainty little dishes. Kinda fun and fancy. Plus, I really liked how the piped mashed potatoes looked in the little ramekins after they toasted in the oven. It almost looked like coral - so beautiful and appetizing.

I couldn't find anything I didn't like about the way I changed Alton's recipe while preparing the meal, so I've posted my version below:


Perfect Cottage Pie

For the Potatoes:
6 medium russet potatoes
1/4 cup milk
4 Tbs unsalted butter (add more to taste)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 egg yolk
dash of garlic powder

For the Filling: 
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cup mixed vegetables  (steamed carrots, peas, corn) I used frozen.
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons chopped dried rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped dried thyme

Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch dice. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and easily crushed with tongs, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Place milk and butter into a microwave-safe container and heat in the microwave until warmed through, about 35 seconds. Drain the potatoes in a colander and then return to the saucepan. Mash the potatoes and then add the milk, butter, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and continue to mash until smooth. Stir in the yolk until well combined.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Place the olive oil into a 12-inch saute pan and set over medium high heat. Add your ground beef and onions - cook until onions are transparent, and meat is cooked through. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Throw in your frozen veggies, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.

Spread meat mixture evenly into your small white ramekins. If you have extra filling and potatoes, use a glass pie pan, or any other oven safe dish for cooking the rest. Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula. Place on a parchment lined half sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

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  1. Alton's version has been my go to Shepherd's Pie recipe for years! I love it...and I too have always made it with ground beef. I love the idea of making them in individual ramekins...the piped potatoes look great.

    1. Isn't Alton the best? I'm glad someone else uses his recipes as go-to. He knows his stuff! I love it.

  2. Cottage pie/shepherds pie - whatever you call it, it still looks delicious!

    Thanks for joining our Beautify It Monday Link Party!

    -Four Sisters

  3. Hello there- I wanted to let you know that you are in COM'S Talent Show today. winks, jen

    1. Jen! Oh my heck, woman! This is the best day ever! I'm pumped! Thank you so so so much!

  4. This is the most beautiful cottage pie I've ever seen - I love the piped potatoes on top! Thanks for linking up!!

    1. Thanks Tisha! I think it adds a little extra special touch! Thanks again for hosting.

  5. We love cottage pie! This looks delicious! We hope to see you back next week to our "Strut Your Stuff Saturday." Thanks for coming!! -The Sisters

  6. Hi Blog Friend, I made this recipe for dinner tonight & it was delicious! Thanks for being so marvelous.

    Warmly, Michelle
    Faith, Trust & Pixie Dust


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