As I was reading about traditional English dishes, I saw one for Cottage Pie, and one for Shephard's Pie. All along I thought Shephard's Pie was made with beef, but it turns out it's traditionally made with Lamb, with Cottage Pie being it's beef counterpart.
I looked through a few Cottage Pie recipes, and all of them said 'This is how my mom makes it,' because it's typically a 'scraps' dish. I decided to take a few elements from each recipe and create something that my future kids can say 'That's the way my (not English) mom made it!'
(Some variants were tomato paste v. tomato puree, with or w/o peas, mushrooms and carrots, herbs, ground beef v. tiny cubed beef, red wine v. beef stock, Cheddar Cheese on top or none at all)
I decided to go for ground beef, peas and carrots (no mushrooms), red wine, tomato puree, and cheese in the potatoes, as well a pinch of cinnamon, one reader's secret ingredient!
Traditional English Cottage Pie
12 oz. lean ground beef
1 yellow onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
salt and black pepper
1/2 c. red wine
1/2 c. tomato puree
Splash of beef or chicken stock
1/2 tsp. thyme
pinch of Cinnamon
1 c. frozen peas
2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and chunked
1 c. milk
2 tbsp. butter
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper
Place potatoes in a large pot, salt, cover and bring to a boil.
Place ground beef in a skillet over medium high, brown and crumble. Add onions, garlic, carrots, salt and pepper. Sautee until veggies are soft. Add in wine, tomato, thyme and cinnamon. Turn to low and simmer while you prepare potatoes.
Preheat broiler to high.
Drain potatoes, dump back into the pot. Add milk, butter and cheese. Mash until very creamy. Season with salt and pepper. Add more milk as needed.
Add peas to the beef mixture, mix well and pour into a casserole dish. Top evenly with the potatoes. Use a fork to create a design, or pipe potatoes with a piping bag.
Place under broiler for 3-5 minutes, until lightly browned. Serve.