When I first started this blog, I posted a recipe for individual cottage pies made with pieces of cut-up steak. It’s my preferred way to make the dish. There are only three of us in my family – two of which are British – so it doesn’t take a lot of meat to produce the final product. But recently, I had to make something for a meeting involving a bunch of hungry men. I decided to make cottage pie, but to make it more cost effective, I used ground beef instead. Behold: Cottage Pie (AKA Shepherd’s Pie) for a crowd! Let me tell you, it was really tasty! Whether you make it with ground beef or steak pieces, you can either make it in a large baking dish or individual, oven-safe dishes – depending on the amount of people you’re serving. You could even make it ahead and refrigerate. Then just bring it to room temperature (about 30-40 minutes, depending on size), and pop it in the oven.
An interesting note that I mentioned last time I posted the recipe: most yanks erroneously call this a shepherd’s pie. A cottage pie traditionally uses beef, and a shepherd’s pie (at least, as it started out) utilizes lamb. So many people have used the term “shepherd’s pie” for the beef pie, that the term can now be used for pies made with beef or lamb. Hence, the title of this post.
For all of my persnickety nomenclature demands, I actually do something very unconventional and unauthentic in this recipe: I use red wine instead of stout or ale. I find that the combination of wine with the aromatic vegetables, fresh herbs, and some good beef stock sets this once-pedestrian supper offering on a pedestal where it belongs. Besides, I can always save the stout or ale for a steak pie with pastry crust. One other note: I “fancy up” the mash on top – usually with sour cream, a little cream or half-and-half, sometimes a little roasted garlic, a great cheese like sharp cheddar, a good Stilton or, my favorite, Gruyere, and a little freshly chopped chives. Make sure to hold a little cheese and a few chives aside to sprinkle over the top.
Follow the recipe and Bob’s your uncle: amazingly good cottage pie fit for a proper expat!