Cottage pie dates back to the 18th century, and comes from Ireland and old England. While Shepherds Pie is typically used interchangeably, a shepherd looks after sheep, and classically, shepherds pie is made with lamb, while cottage pie with beef!
If you are one of those people that doesn't like when their food touches on their plate, perhaps you might like to skip this post. Cottage pie is so many yummy things in one spoonful, served best in a bowl with a big hunk of garlic bread. Soul food at its best.
With such simple ingredients, I like to take the time to make them extra special on their own, so when added together, its just blissful. Start by cutting potatoes into small pieces to boil and make mashed potatoes.I begin the beef with a big pot that is oven safe, one less thing to wash! While the potatoes cook,
slice a big onion thinly, and saute over medium heat. Cut a pound of mushrooms into quarters, anything you like- button, crimini, anything!! and add to the pot. Next, add New Boston Ground Beef- we use 2 pounds and loooooove the left overs. Brown the beef and crumble with a wooden spoon until it resembles a rich sauce. Once it is just about cooked through, sprinkle the meat with flour, or bisquick (my hidden secret!), and stir to soak up some of the grease. Deglaze the pot with a healthy doze of red wine, and reduce over medium heat until it is nice and thick. Now would also be a good time to turn your oven on to about 350 degrees.
By now your potatoes should be about finished! Make your potatoes extra rich and delicious with butter, milk and sour cream, and season them well with salt and pepper. Mash until very smooth.
You are now ready to assemble your cottage pie! On top of the beef, layer frozen peas- while not overly special, I like to keep them frozen until I'm almost ready to bake dinner because they'll stay bright green this way. Season with salt and pepper, as they cook, they'll steam in the middle layer and you'll want them seasoned on their own.
At the end of the passed 2 summers, I've spent an entire day at the Salisbury household shucking 12 dozen ears of corn, taking the kernels off the cob, and portioning them into freezer bags. Its a helluva lotta work, but for meals like this, in snowy March, having August corn is a real treat, and totally worth the work... remind me I said this in a few months. So, summer corn is the next layer!
Finally, top off the pot with your delicious, sinful mashed potatoes. Smooth them over the corn, and close the edges all the way to the sides of the pot. Put the whole thing in the oven for about 20 minutes, just until you see the edges start to bubble, that the steam from the veggies and meat escaping, ensuring everything is nice and hot!!
Spoon into your favorite bowl, and enjoy under a fuzzy blanket! Or at the dining room table...