December Date Night: Mini Cottage Pies

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Cottage pie, winter comfort food at its finest! Similar to a Shepherd’s pie, but made with beef instead of lamb, cottage pie’s signature feature is the crust that develops on the mashed potatoes after it has baked. And for this month’s date night, this is exactly what I wanted to make since the weather is finally cold outside. Yay winter in California!

The standard ingredients in a cottage pie are beef, carrots, onion, gravy, and mashed potatoes. Growing up, I ate the pie with ground beef, but decided to elevate this recipe with beef chunks creating a heartier pie. The best part is that most grocery stores sell beef stew chunks so no cutting for you and a quicker prep time! With the meat selected, I also needed to step up my gravy game and to the internet I went in search of a cottage pie gravy that was above the rest. Behold, the stout gravy was found! Thanks to Butterflyfood’s post, I had found a gravy and mashed potato recipe (bonus!) that would put this cottage pie one notch above the traditional pie.

Now since I was only cooking for two, this recipe needed some modifications, but it was a great starting point. While the ingredient list may look a little daunting as it is quite long, you will find that you already have most of these ingredients on hand. Don’t want to buy a six-pack of Guinness because you won’t drink the rest? Not to worry, many grocery stores stock single 12 oz bottles of this stout so that you can only buy one and waste not! The other ingredient that posed a challenge was the bacon. While this cannot be bought per piece, I selected the smallest package I could find and after taking out the two pieces I needed for this recipe, I froze the rest to save for the next time I hosted brunch for the family. Problem solved!

With the ingredients bought, all that was left to do was some pureeing, sauteing, and baking. My favorite part of this dish was piping the mashed potatoes on top to create a decorative pattern as well as provide more surface area to crisp up in the oven. Be careful when handling the piping bag with the mashed potatoes, as unlike frosting, the potatoes will be steaming hot. You can of course skip this step and spread the mashed potatoes on top of the beef with a spoon, but it was date night so I decided to go all out 🙂

Grab a bottle of wine and some bread to sop up the gravy, and enjoy this Cottage Pie recipe for two!

Ingredients

  • 2 strips of bacon, cooked and roughly chopped
  • 1 green onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into medium-sized chunks
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3-4 small white mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and chopped 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 lb. beef stew chunks
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/3 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
  • 1/4 cup Guinness stout
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Making those “Pies”

  • Preheat oven to 350 F degrees
  • Using a food processor, puree cooked bacon, green onions and 2 tablespoons of the milk until smooth; set aside
  • Boil a medium-sized pot of water and cook potato chunks in boiling water for 10 minutes or until they are tender when pierced with a fork
  • To save on cooking time, while the potatoes are cooking, heat a medium-sized frying pan with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and saute the sliced mushrooms, diced onions, and sliced carrots over medium heat until the veggies are slightly tender and the mushrooms have started to brown
    • remove the veggies and transfer to a bowl
  • Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil to the same pan and cook the beef chunks for about 3 minutes until browned on all sides but still pink in the middle
    • Be careful not to overcook the beef as it will dry out and no amount of gravy can save it!
  • Add the minced garlic, tomato paste, dried thyme, bay leaf, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, Sriracha sauce, and stout beer to the pan with the beef and stir to combine
    • I suggest measuring all of these ingredients before hand and have them prepped in a bowl so that they can be added all at once
  • Add the flour and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the sauce begins to thicken
  • Add the frozen peas to the pan and cook for an additional 2 minutes, remove from heat and set aside
  • Once potatoes have finished cooking, drain liquid and mash until smooth
  • Add the pureed bacon mixture to the potatoes with the remaining 1/4 cup of milk and shredded cheese, mix to combine
  • Add the cooked carrots, mushrooms, and onions to the beef mixture in the pan and stir to combine
  • Transfer the beef and veggie mixture to a 8 x 4 glass baking dish or distribute between 2 french onion soup dishes as I did
  • Using a piping bag and star tip or a large ziplock bag with a 1/2 inch cut off one of the corners, pipe the mashed potatoes on top of the beef mixture
    • You can also spread the potatoes evenly with a wooden spoon if you want to skip the piping step
  • Bake for 25 minutes, the dish will be done when the potatoes have slightly browned
  • Grab a fork and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Butterflyfood found on: http://www.natrel.ca/en/recipes/shepherds-pie-green-onion-and-bacon-mashed-potatoes

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