25 January 2012

Cottage Pie

Well, on Sunday night I decided to cook dinner. It was a good evening all around and full of enjoyment. I have decided to share a recipe that is a huge hit in my family. The recipe is for Cottage Pie, which is a huge hit in my family. In the US, it's common to hear cottage pie called shepherd's pie, but shepherd's pie refers to the use of lamb or mutton, which we don't really use much here. I confirmed that with a friend the other day since we've been calling it shepherd's pie all along. The more you know! At any rate, it's a family favorite. My brother gobbles the stuff up like you would not believe. It's a good way to get him to eat vegetables since they're mixed in so well.

I would like to note, that this recipe is one that can easily feed a family of seven with at least one serving left over for lunch when served with a salad. If you have a regular, normal-sized family I would suggest using one casserole dish, one pound of meat, and one pound of vegetables.
Also, by recipe... I mean general recipe. I'm absolutely terrible with measuring out actual food items while cooking and am famous for my method of "some" cooking. Put some of this, some of that. Never an actual measurement beyond what I happen to see on packages when I open them. Ha.

2 lb lean ground beef or turkey
2 lb frozen mixed vegetables (I tend to get the ones with carrots, peas, green beans, lima beans, etc)
7-8 medium-ish potatoes (I tend to get the red potatoes and approximately one per person that is a size that would not make them cry if it was a baked potato)
Fat-free sour cream
Worcestershire sauce
Garlic- fresh, minced, powder... we like it all
Ground black pepper
1. Set water to boil and preheat oven to 350.
2. Peel and quarter potatoes.
3. Peel a few cloves of garlic and add in to potatoes. This is optional. We are garlic FREAKS.
4. Put quartered potatoes and whole garlic cloves in boiling water, boil for about ten minutes or until fork tender.
5. While waiting for potatoes to boil, put meat and vegetables into a large pan to brown and cook, adding Worcestershire sauce in not-too-liberal amounts along with minced garlic, ground black pepper, basil, and thyme. Notice there are not measurements because I tend to cook by smell. Also, be sure not to accidentally dump ALL the Worcestershire sauce in. There is such a thing as too much.
6. When potatoes are ready, strain out the water and set aside.
7. When the ground beef or turkey is browned, evenly line the bottom of two casserole dishes with the mixture and set aside. If you use meat with a higher fat content, you may want to strain it to get the oil out. If it's too fatty the oil will bubble over the mashed potatoes when baking. I don't usually have this problem since we use very lean beef or turkey, like I said.
8. Mash your potatoes and add ground black pepper and garlic powder. Add fat free sour cream to the mixture to give it a more smooth and creamy texture. I do this because I am on weight watchers and it is significantly better than butter as far as points go. If you like butter in your mashed potatoes, go for it. This is just a healthier option.
9. Smooth the mashed potatoes over the cooked meat in the bottom of your casserole dishes. I tend to do this with a spatula and make cool ridges and such. 
10. Put in oven and cook for half an hour or so or until potatoes become golden on top. I do not like to bake mine as long since the little dude is usually doing the hungry dance in front of the oven pretty much immediately after it goes in.

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