Recipe: Cheddar Cottage Pie


Every year, come November, I want to buy every "lifestyle" magazine on the newsstand.  So many table setting ideas I won't use!  So many stuffing recipes that I'll never try!  So many, many ways of saying the same thing!  Not to mention all those photos of glossy turkeys sitting on beds of greens that are probably plastic.  I am a total sucker for all of it.  So this year, in conjunction with Project: Cold Cereal is for Breakfast I've instituted a new rule.  I can buy as many of these magazines as I like, as long as I try at least one recipe from each magazine.  First up: the December issue of Canadian Living and a recipe for something that looks an awful lot like Shepherd's Pie, but is called Cheddar Cottage Pie.  A quick Google search has taught me that the thing we've all been eating all these years and calling Shepherd's Pie is actually Cottage Pie.  Shepherd's Pie is actually supposed to be made with ground lamb.  Huh.  Now that I have this information there is a danger that I'm going to go around correcting people all the time, like I do when they misuse "ironic". Thanks, Canadian Living Magazine, for making me even less likeable.

What you'll need:

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 1/3 cup sodium-reduced beef broth
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 lb boiling potatoes (4 or 5), peeled
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded extra-old Cheddar cheese

Wine pairing:  Does Diet Coke count?  Cause I really needed the caffeine. Seriously, if I'd indulged in a glass of wine whilst whipping this up I would have been asleep before you could say "did you know that Shepherd's Pie is actually supposed to be made with ground lamb?".

Listening:  Not Christmas music, no matter how much I want to listen to it.  I'm holding out.  I have to wait until at least the Santa Claus Parade has happened here in Toronto.  There's no way I hold out as long as American Thanksgiving.  No. Way.


1.  For Cheddar Mashed Potatoes:  In large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook potatoes until tender, about 10 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

2.  In same saucepan, heat milk to scalding, remove from heat.  Add potatoes; mash with potato masher.  Beat with electric beater until smooth.  Stir in cheese.

3.  Meanwhile, in large skillet, heat oil over medium heat; cook onion, carrots and garlic, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add beef, thyme, salt and pepper; cook, stirring, until meat is no longer pink.  Stir in tomato paste.

4.  Stir in broth and Worcestershire sauce; bring to boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes.

5.  Pour meat mixture into 6-cup casserole dish.  Spread mashed potatoes evenly over top.  Bake in 400 degree oven until bubbly and browned, about 20 minutes. (Note:  I chose to spread the potatoes less evenly, sort of in peaks and sprinkled more cheddar on top).

Verdict:   Hearty, warm, comfort food.  My only complaint is that it's a tiny bit bland, considering all the flavours you're expecting.  I served it with (yet another) sprinkling of old cheddar on top and lots of ground pepper.  I might consider adding a little more tomato paste next time to help with that.  I think this would be a great make-ahead dish (to freeze) and would probably be a crowd pleaser at a pot luck.  I'd consider entertaining with this (along with a simple green salad and some crusty bread) if I was throwing a casual get together where we engaged in an activity like tree trimming or something.  I imagine enjoying this curled up in front of a fire place, shawl wrapped over my shoulders, reading a good book.  Nothing wrong with that.  In the end, I'd say this recipe was worth the price of the magazine.  And let's be honest. Knowing the truth about Shepherd's Pie?  Priceless.

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