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Sunday, May 1, 2011

It's A Wrap

Well, Will and Kate's big day has come and gone.  Kate looked stunning in her classic Grace Kellyesque Sarah Barton for Alexander McQueen wedding gown.  Will looked regal in his bespoke military uniform. London looked beautiful and the Queen looked sunny in yellow.  Let's face it, no one does pomp quite like the British.

So here we are, back to real life.  Kate gets the fairy tale and the rest of us get to read about it in magazines.  Bummer, don't you think?  Nonetheless, I thought I would give one last hurrah to British cooking with this recipe for cottage pie.

Apparently cottage pie, which is a lot like shepherd's pie, was one of William's favorite meals as a child.  In fact, I read somewhere that he still enjoys it and Kate makes it for him.  While I don't expect that cottage pie will be served at any state dinners, it is quite tasty and really hits the spot if you're in the mood for comfort food, British style.

The recipe is very easy.  The only trick is to make sure that you simmer the meat mixture long enough so that the gravy thickens and the meat isn't too wet.  The rest is, as they say,  easy-peasy.  I think the chief difference between cottage pie and shepherd's pie is the absence of peas in the meat mixture.  To be honest, this suits me just fine because I'm not a big pea fan.

Give this recipe a try.  There are probably millions of variations on cottage pie, but this one is fairly quick to make and requires only one ingredient you may not have around the house already, Kitchen Bouquet.  This can be found in the gravy section of the supermarket.

So long to wedding week and best wishes to Will and Kate.

Recipe:  Cottage Pie
(Darren McGrady)


For the beef base
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 to 2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 cups water
1 tablespoon Kitchen Bouquet browning and seasoning sauce
2 beef bouillon cubes
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

For the potato topping
2 pounds potatoes, peeled
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 egg yolk
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese


Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large sauce pan over high heat, heat the oil and add the onion.  Saute until translucent.  Add the ground beef and saute, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon, until it is no longer pink.  Gradually stir in the flour, thyme, water, Kitchen Bouquet, bouillon cubes, and Worcestershire Sauce.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer the meat 30-45 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and the meat and fork tender.  Remove the pan from the stove and transfer the beef to an oven safe casserole dish.

While the meat is simmering, place the potatoes in a large pot and add cold water to 1 inch above the potatoes.  Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat.  Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.  Drain and replace the potatoes in the pot and heat over a low heat to dry them thoroughly.  Mash the potatoes or run them through a potato ricer.

Stir in the nutmeg, cream, egg yolk, butter, salt and pepper.  Then use the mashed potatoes to cover the top of the meat mixture in the casserole dish.  Sprinkle the top of the potatoes with  the cheese.  Bake for 20 -30 minutes until the potatoes are golden brown and the pie has heated through.

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