Thursday, March 17, 2016

Cottage Pie and a Happy St Patrick's Day

Since 20% of my heritage is British and Irish, a Happy St. Patrick's day to ye.
May luck be our companion
May friends stand by our side
May history remind us all
Of Ireland's faith and pride.
May god bless us with happiness
May love and faith abide. 

~ Irish Blessing

Cottage Pie (or Shepherd Pie made with Lamb) from Diana's kitchen

2 pounds russet potatoes (or parsnips), peeled and cubed
1/3 to 1/2 cup half-and-half
4 TB Unsalted butter
5 young chives, diced
1 egg, slightly beaten
Salt and pepper to taste

1 TB olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 stalks celery, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 TB fermented Tomato Conserve or 1 TB regular tomato paste
1 1/2 pounds lean local grass-fed ground beef, i.e. sirloin
4 ounces crimini (or white) mushrooms, trimmed and chopped
1 TB Worcestershire sauce
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 fresh bay leaves
½ cup beef stock
3 TB Madeira
½ cup fresh or frozen peas, thawed and drained
½ cup fresh or frozen corn kernels, drained
1 TB cornstarch
1 TB water

Boil potatoes until tender_ 10-15 minutes. Drain the potatoes. Place the pot back on the stove over low heat to evaporate any excess water. Add half-and-half and butter and mash potatoes until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste. Temper the egg with a bit of the mashed potatoes; add to the potatoes and combine thoroughly. Add the chives and combine.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute onions, carrots, celery, and garlic until tender_ 5-7 minutes. Sprinkle with just a touch of salt and pepper.

Add the tomato conserve and mix evenly. Push vegetables to the side. Add the ground beef and cook until beef is no longer pink_ about 10 minutes. Incorporate the vegetables and beef and add the mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, bay leaf, beef stock and Madeira. Taste for any additional salt and pepper. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Mix 1 TB water with the cornstarch and stir into the pan to thicken, about 1 minute. Mix in peas and corn. Transfer mixture to an oven-proof baking dish and spread evenly.

Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal and prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a fork to create a bit of texture. Bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to cool for at least 15 minutes.