For this month’s installment of the Secret Recipe Club I decided to go a bit more savory with a delicious and easy meal option inspired by this recipe I found on my food blog assignment for the month at Paulchen’s Foodblog?! written by Astrid who is located in Vienna. I just loved what she had to say about the way she cooks in her about page – that is so me! I have a difficult time writing down meal recipes because I’m a very off-the-cuff cook (I’m better about measuring and recording what I’ve done in baking, but cooking… yeah, not so much!).
Anyway, another familiar name for this type of dish – a mixture of ground, browned meat (beef in this case), vegetables and a mashed potato crust, is a Shepherd’s Pie. I liked the Irish Cottage Pie name better, since it made more sense to me. I sometimes like to make up little stories in my head of how and why something is named a certain way, and in this case, with a name like cottage pie I got to weave a little daydream that it was because *in my other ideal life where there is no stress* I could be in a sweet little cottage where life is peaceful and perfect and I turn out regular lovely, comforting and heartwarming meals that my darling and perfect children eat (with perfect manners and no fuss of course) where we all eat together as a family. The meal will be devoured in a reasonable amount of time and there will be satisfied bellies all around.
Maybe someplace like this one that actually is in Ireland… dreamy… I’m going to run away some day and sit on that bench, right there – probably in a floaty dress and a pretty hat…
It’s a nice thought any way. Don’t get me wrong, I still want to go, but then chaos and crazy together, what I really want is to have my rascals there with me and show them the waterfall and always keep them close by… even when they are driving me completely batty!
What a typical evening looks like around here is, of course, about as far from that little fantasy as possible… but we can still eat the same meal and give it a try. Even if one kid still can’t eat solids, one won’t eat anything and one never eats enough to even feed a small bird, and generally no one is willing or ready to try and eat at the same time. We still like to try.
I’m delusional like that.
What the evening (yes, indeed, evening – thus the rather terribly lit pictures -sorry!) really looked like was more of a three-ring circus, fit throwing, I’m not going to eat and you can’t make me, family drama. And that was all before the meal was even on the table! Is it any wonder we end up doing breakfast for dinner so often?!
So, was this recipe delicious and a rousing success? Actually, YES. The pictures are definitely not the greatest, but the dinner was satisfying (at least for those of us who aren’t stubborn 4 year olds who like to just say they hate everything without tasting it!). The really great thing is that overall, it was extremely unfussy to put together, so even though the kids were pulling their usual shenanigans over dinner time, it wasn’t too stressful for once.
Kayla, if she could eat solids, I like to think would have loved this. I did eat it and was extremely happy with how it turned out.
Cole, who usually loves the meat/potatoes/veggie combinations was in a **mood** and wouldn’t even try it without saying he didn’t like it. Of course this is the kid who really only wants to vary what he eats between two or three things at a time for weeks on end, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised since this was something new. Next time I make it, he’ll probably do the same, then the next time he may finally at least try it!
The one rousing success of the night though was the fact that Aidan, who never wants to eat anything at all, actually loved it and ate a full portion- not just a few bites! That is nothing short of miraculous around here!
I will definitely be making this again. It is probably worth noting here that I did adapt the recipe fairly liberally in making a bit of a sauce to go on the ground beef to help get the kids to try it. It was really just enough to punch up the flavor and make it even more kid friendly. I also added a liberal amount of shredded cheese to the potato crust, as suggested by Astrid. If you are looking for a version that doesn’t load on extra calories that are meant to help skinny children (mine) actually take in some calories, then I suggest you look to Astrid’s version for your inspiration. Mine is loaded since that is what we have to do around here to feed the birds… I mean kids. My thanks to Astrid for the inspiration!
Be sure to check out the roundup of links below for more great recipes!
Irish Cottage Pie
Inspired by and adapted from Paulchen’s Foodblog?!
1 lb ground beef, browned and drained
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
1 cloved garlic, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon water
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon molasses
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 large carrot, diced
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen peas
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly butter a 9-inch baking dish or pie plate and set aside.
In a large skillet, brown the ground beef and drain the grease. Set the browned beef aside in a dish while you use the skillet for the vegetables. Add the extra virgin olive oil to the pan and over medium heat saute the diced onions until they are translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add the minced garlic and saute 1 minute more. Add the diced carrots to the pan along with 1 tablespoon of water and saute 5 minutes until the carrots become more tender. Add the browned beef back into the pan and stir in the molasses, tomato paste, and cider vinegar to coat – continue to cook 1 minute more, then add the corn and peas. Season with the salt and pepper to taste. Turn the heat to low while you prepare the mashed potato mixture.
For the potato crust:
2 russet potatoes, baked or boiled then mashed
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese – divided into 2/3 cup and 1/3 cup portions
salt and pepper to taste
Mash together the potatoes, butter, cream, salt and pepper and 2/3 cup of shredded cheese until smooth and creamy. Taste for seasoning before assembling the cottage pie.
To assemble and bake:
Remove the ground beef and vegetable mixture from the heat and spread it evenly into the greased pie plate. Spread the mashed potato mixture over the beef and vegetable filling and use a spatula to spread it evenly over the entire surface, covering the beef and vegetables. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the potato crust. Place the pie into the preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cheese is well melted and golden brown. Serve hot.