We don’t have snow here in the desert, but we had a weekend of rain and clouds. The kids were both battling colds, and none of us really got enough sleep. But the rain was beautiful and demanded cozy food. We stayed in, baked pumpkin muffins, watched Christmas movies, and made snuggly blanket forts. Cottage Pie is just the thing for these sorts of moments.
We’ve made this cottage pie a few times this season, and it’s really delicious. I like that it’s simple to put together and is very home-y. It’s certainly nothing extra fancy, but it’s a nice change of pace when you’re looking for comfort food. You can make it fresh in just over 30 minutes, or you can use leftover mashed potatoes, if you like.
If you’re thinking “isn’t this Shepherd’s Pie?,” you’re nearly right. Shepherd’s Pie is the British version that uses ground lamb. The more Americanized version is called Cottage Pie and uses beef. I’m a little afraid of lamb for some reason (mostly because I’ve never cooked with it), so beef it is!
Add a simple side salad and some fruit and you’ve got yourself a stand-up dinner. What are you making for quick comfort food these days? What do I need to try?
Pssst! Not everyone who follows a Paleo diet eats potatoes. If that’s you, feel free to swap in a mashed cauliflower topping. We’ve eaten it that way and it’s tasty too. And, in case you need other modifications…
1/2 cup water or chicken broth (or more, as needed)
Lots of salt and pepper
For the filling:
Brown the ground beef with garlic and onion powders, an a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Drain any excess fat. Add onion, carrots, and celery to the pan and continue cooking over medium heat until the veggies are crisp-tender. Add tomato paste, beef broth, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir until the sauce is thick and the beef and veggie mixture is well coated. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
(If the sauce is far too thick, you can thin it with a little more beef broth. You don’t really want it very juicy or thin or it’ll be too soggy for the potato topping.)
Stir in the frozen peas and transfer the beef and veggie mixture to an 8×8″ (or 2 quart) baking dish.
For the mashed potato topping:
While the filling is cooking, boil the potatoes. Place the potatoes in a large pot and fill with water until the water is 1 inch above the potatoes. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes, or until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. Drain potatoes. Return to the pan or a large bowl.
Pour in 1/2 cup water to start, the olive oil, and a very hefty dose of salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher or blend with a hand mixer, or until potatoes are whipped and well blended, adding water as necessary to achieve your desired consistency. Try not to over blend them or they’ll get gluey.
Spread the mashed potatoes over the beef and veggie mixture. Rough up the surface a bit with a fork or spatula.
Bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes or put under the broiler for 2-5 minutes, or until the potato topping is just starting to brown. (Those roughed up bits will get nice and toasty).