Best Ever Cottage Pie
Folks, I have a serious crisis on my hands… a very serious crisis indeed: There’s a mouse in my house!!!!!
I know that, seeing as how this is a food blog and all, I probably shouldn’t be talking about this. I should be discussing the recent release of my new baby and first ever cookbook, (‘cuz really, I’m so excited: my daughter just spotted it on the shelves of a local library for the very first time today, EEEEEEK!!!) or signing the praises of the crazy delicious, Best Ever Cottage Pie recipe that I’m about to share with you (‘cuz really, it IS and by a wide margin, the best I ever had!!!).
But I just can’t seem to get past the fact that THERE IS ACTUALLY A MOUSE IN MY HOUSE!!!!
Since I’ve spotted him, I’m stuck on that vision and can’t seem to get my brains to focus on anything else. I mean, I’m trying to think happy thoughts and to get all kinds of cutesy images in my mind; visions of Cinderella and her bunch of helpful furry little friends; visions of Remy, the adorable and totally brilliant chef rat in the movie Ratatouille. Or my personal favorite, Mr. Jingles! Now he is one seriously soulful little guy. So much so, I cried when… wait… have you seen The Green Mile? I wouldn’t want to spoil anything for you if you haven’t. But if you have, you know exactly what I’m talking about (and you probably cried too… on more than one occasion! That movie had me sob like a baby).
But I digress…
Like I was saying, THERE’S A MOUSE IN MY HOUSE!
And yes, in case you are wondering, when I spotted him, I yelled. I yelled like my life was in great danger. Like my life was about to end. Like a Big.Fat.Wuss. Try as I might, all I could see was some kind of gigantic, scary beast that would bite my toes off and jump on my head with one giant leap to scratch my skull all over… But then I calmed down… somewhat. I still have to wear shoes whenever I go down to the basement, just in case. And if I had a helmet, I’m sure I’d wear it, too.
Now what I really want to know is how in the world does that furry beast think that it’s alright for him to make himself at home in MY basement? In MY gym, especially? Who gave him permission to do that? Now how is it that I am supposed to confidently blast the music, lay on the floor and work on my abs when this “thing” could come out of nowhere at any given time and start climbing over my body like it’s Mount Kilimanjaro or something and that he’s hoping to tackle the challenge? And what if he decides to catch me off guard and sneakily attacks me while I’m watching hockey in the dark?
I need to get rid of it… but how?
At least, as far as I know, he’s doing things solo; it’s only him in here for now. But what if “he” is in fact a “she” who happens to be carrying a million more little mice in her belly? Or what if “he” has a wife and kids and decides to move in permanently with them and raise his family under MY roof? Oh my… I don’t know what to do. I mean, I HAVE to get rid of him, but still, scary as he may be, I don’t want to kill the poor thing… I’ve set up A trap but I feel terrible about it. Plus, it’s only one tiny little trap, lost in all the immensity of my basement (well, I bet it’s immense for him, anyway). How’s he ever gonna find it?
For real, though, I’m surprised that I haven’t had to deal with this kind of situation before. I mean, I *do* live in the sticks after all…
Do you think that maybe he’ll just find a way out and never come back again? If anyone can offer some insight, I would greatly appreciate it. I’m no expert when it comes to dealing with these kinds of things. I’m much better in the kitchen, trust me.
Speaking of which, maybe it’s about time we got back to what it is that I should be talking about on here, what say you?
Cottage Pie, right… that’s what we are eating today.
But, this is not your average Cottage Pie. No way, Jose! This is the Cottage Pie that you whip up on special occasions, when you’re expecting company (or just because you feel like eating it, that’s acceptable too!)
Just be aware of the fact that you will need to have SEVERAL hours ahead of you to whip this baby up, so plan accordingly. It’s not going to ask for THAT much out of you, but you will definitely have to be at home all day that day, if only to attend to it, that’s for sure…
To begin with, place a saute pan over medium-high heat and add about one tablespoon of avocado oil (or any other healthy cooking fat of your choice, like ghee, lard or coconut oil) to it.
While the fat is heating up, make sure to pat the meat real dry. Then, when the pan is nice and hot, add some of the pieces of meat to it, in a single layer.
You really want to make sure that your pieces do not touch, and cook them until brown on all sides. Chances are you’ll have to work in several batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan, which would cause the meat to boil as opposed to brown.
Remove the cooked pieces of meat to a bowl to collect the juices while you work on cooking the others. You really wouldn’t want to lose a single drop of that precious liquid: that’s so much flavor for you, right there.
Oh, and don’t hesitate to add more fat to the pan, if and as necessary.
Once all the meat has been cooked and set aside, lower the heat to medium, add yet a little bit more fat to the pan if necessary and then throw in the onion, celery, garlic, salt and pepper.
Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables become fragrant and start to become translucent.
Return the meat along with every single drop of its precious juices to the pan, then add the tomato paste, Dijon mustard, oregano, bone broth and balsamic vinegar.
Stir until well combined and the liquid starts to simmer, then lower the heat, cover the pan loosely and simmer, stirring from time to time, for about 2½ hours or until the meat practically falls apart and the sauce has become nice and thick.
Yes, that’s 2½ hours. I told you that this one took quite a bit of time to make. But trust me, it’s totally, definitely worth it. The tender chunks of meat that you get as a reward for being so patient are like a million times better than the ground beef that usually goes into cottage pie.
Once your meat is fully cooked, you’ll want to turn on the oven and set it to 375°F
Then, slice the potatoes as thinly as possible (here, the help of a mandoline is strongly recommended, so if you have one, here’s a good occasion to use it!) and set them aside.
If you don’t do white potatoes, feel free to use sweet potatoes instead: they would be equally delicious!
Likewise, if mashed potatoes are more your thing, just go ahead and mash your tubers instead of slicing them. You’re not gonna hurt my feelings!
Lastly, if you wanted to keep your carbs in check, you could very well replace the potatoes with The Best Cauli-Mash Ever. Hey, two “Best Ever” recipes brought together in a single dish? I say that HAS to be a total winner!
Now that your potatoes have been dealt with, transfer your meat to a 9″ x 13″ baking dish…
…and then spread the frozen peas and carrots over the meat.
Don’t even bother cooking or thawing them. Just throw them on there, right out of the freezer.
Finally, arrange the potato slices on top, making sure they overlap. Unless you chose to use mashed… then there’s no need to overlap. Hahaha. Sorry, I’m trying to be funny. I know, I need to work on it.
Brush the melted ghee over the [sliced or mashed] potatoes (or Cauli-Mash) and sprinkle with salt and pepper; cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes, until the potatoes are soft. (you may want to reduce cooking time to 25 minutes if using mashed.)
Remove the foil and continue cooking for 15 minutes then broil for 5 minutes to crisp up the potatoes a little bit and give them a beautiful golden coloration.
Remove from the oven, let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Garnish with paprika and chopped parsley, if desired.
And now, you’re finally ready to sit yourself down and enjoy the fruit of your labor. Hey, you had been warned that this would take a while.
But just like me, I’m positive that you will think it was VERY WELL worth every second spent in the kitchen, and then some!
- 2 tbsp avocado oil (or other healthy cooking fat of your choice)
- 1.4kg (3 lbs) beef sirloin, cut into 1" cubes (or beef stewing cubes)
- 1 celery stalk, sliced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1-1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
- 1-1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small 170g (6oz) can tomato paste
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 2 cups bone broth
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 4 cups frozen peas and carrots (omit peas for Whole30)
- Place a saute pan over medium-high heat and add about one tablespoon of avocado oil (or other healthy cooking fat of your choice) to it. While the fat is heating up, pat the meat real dry.
- When the pan is nice and hot, add some pieces of meat to it, in a single layer, making sure that the pieces do not touch, and cook until brown on all sides. Work in several batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan, which would cause the meat to boil as opposed to brown. Remove the cooked pieces of meat to a bowl to collect the juices. Add more fat to the pan as necessary.
- Once all the meat has been cooked and set aside, lower the heat to medium, add a little bit more fat to the pan if necessary and then throw in the onion, celery, garlic, salt and pepper; cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are fragrant and become translucent.
- Return the meat along with its precious juices to the pan, add the tomato paste, Dijon mustard, oregano, bone broth and balsamic vinegar. Stir until well combined and the liquid starts to simmer, then lower the heat, cover the pan loosely and simmer, stirring from time to time, for about 2½ hours or until the meat practically falls apart and the sauce has become nice and thick.
- When the meat is cooked, start your oven to 375°F
- Slice the potatoes as thinly as possible (the help of a mandoline is strongly recommended) and set aside.
- Transfer the meat to a 9" x 13" baking dish and then spread the frozen peas and carrots over the meat. Arrange the potato slices on top, making sure they overlap.
- Brush the melted ghee over the potatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper; cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.
- Remove the foil and continue cooking for 15 minutes then broil for 5 minutes to crisp up the potatoes a little bit and give them a beautiful golden coloration.
- Remove from the oven, let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
- Garnish with paprika and chopped parsley, if desired.