A Little Humble Pie: Cottage Pie

Homey, rustic food is just the thing to take off the chill at this time of year. Cottage pie has all the ingredients of a quintessential wintertime dish: meat, potatoes and gravy kept toasty warm in a casserole dish. It's basically the same thing as shepherd's pie, though "cottage pie" usually indicates the use of minced beef rather than lamb. 

Why bother cooking the filling and topping separately, and then cooking them again in the oven? Baking lets the flavours blend together so the pie is more... cohesive tasting, if that makes any sense. The potatoes absorb some of the gravy below which enhances their flavour. It's also the easiest way (short of a blowtorch!) to get a nicely bronzed potato topping. 

Tip: Adding an egg yolk to the mashed potatoes helps them brown. It's the same method used to make Duchess Potatoes.

Recipe after the jump!

Cottage Pie

Serves 6

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 large yellow onion, diced medium
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound ground beef
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup beef stock/broth
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup corn kernels

2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1-2 egg yolk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until onion is soft, 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir in tomato paste. Add meat and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until almost cooked through, 3 minutes. Add thyme, Worcestershire sauce and broth and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring frequently, until slightly reduced, 2 minutes. Sprinkle flour over mixture and stir to combine. Cook until mixture thickens, about 2 minutes. Stir in corn and season with salt and pepper.

Cook potatoes in salted water until tender. In a small saucepot, heat milk, butter and garlic together. Mash potatoes and add milk mixture, parmesan cheese, and egg yolk(s). 

Transfer meat mixture to 2 quart baking dish and top with mashed potatoes. Bake at 400 degrees until potatoes are evenly browned, about 15-30 minutes.

Adapted from Everyday Food

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