If there is any meal that can bring Timothy up the stairs from the playroom for dinner then this is it. Aside from boxed macaroni and cheese, this is his favourite meal. While Simon and I love to put HP Sauce on it, Timothy loves anything he can put ketchup on.
This is another recipe that uses a large quantity of ground beef, which is why I call it Cottage Pie rather than Shepherd’s Pie – shepherds heard sheep, not cows. In North America it would be very rare to be served Shepherd’s Pie and not have it be made of beef. To be honest though, when I holler down to Simon and Timothy that dinner is ready I don’t call it Cottage Pie, I call it Shepherd’s Pie. Calling it Cottage Pie in the title is my way of letting those afflicted with recipe naming pedantry that, yes, I do know it isn’t Shepherd’s Pie.
This recipe makes a good size casserole dish for a meal that would easily serve 6 and it fills a smaller dish that is a good size dinner for 3. In the middle of the week I love pulling out my little dish from the freezer and popping it in the oven knowing that I will have a very good dinner that everyone loves. It takes over an hour to cook it from frozen though.
The next time you are at the grocery store and see that gnarly looking vegetable called celeriac (celery root), pick one up and try it. It is really delicious and easy to cook. To peel it, cut of the top and bottom to give yourself a flat surface and then use your knife to cut the ugly outer skin. If your knife skills are good enough then cut down from the top and follow the shape of the celeriac to cut off vertical strips, going around until all the skin is off. If your knife skills aren’t very good then just cut pieces of the skin off as best you can.
I cook the celeriac, sweet potatoes and regular potatoes in the same water at the same time for the mash topping. I am a lazy cook in many ways and if you cut them into sort of the same sizes it works just fine. Cut the potatoes a little smaller than the celeriac and sweet potatoes and they will all be done at the same time. I use my hand held beaters to mix up the mash but I think a potato ricer would probably work best. It doesn’t really matter though, just get it mixed up with whatever you have.
These past two posts are designed to help take some of the trepidation away from ordering beef in bulk. If you are considering buying organic beef and are put off by the cost, then buying a 1/4 share of a cow is a great way to go. It is a large initial expense but it is a good investment in your community and your overall health. Knowing where your food comes from and how it is grown is empowering. It can be discouraging to hear all this bad news about our unhealthy food system but it is up to you whether you can make a difference in your community. Shop around, ask questions and most of all, look beyond your grocery store for your food. Sadly, you will have a hard time finding local, organic meat and produce. If you are in Waterloo then I have a page with some options for finding local food that is a good starting point.
Here are some more pictures from our family visit to Vibrant Farms. The goats were adorable. I usually get a little creeped out by goats because of their weird eyes but these ones for short and fat little guys that were cute as buttons.
A little twist on a classic - ground beef with carrots, peas and corn topped with mashed celeriac, sweet potatoes and regular potatoes. Makes a huge batch perfect for feeding a crowd or freezing some for a busy weeknight.
30 minPrep Time
1 hr, 20 Cook Time
1 hr, 50 Total Time
- 3 medium potatoes, peeled
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled (use 3 if they are small)
- 1 celeriac (about the size of a baby's head)
- 3 tbsp butter
- 2-4 tbsp milk
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 lbs ground beef
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 large cooking onion (or 2 small onions), finely diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 tbsp flour (I use Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Flour)
- 2/3 cup beef stock
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 tbsp tomato paste (or 1/4 cup ketchup)
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1/2 cup frozen corn niblets
- salt and pepper to taste
- Peel and cut the potatoes, sweet potatoes and celeriac into large chunks. Cut the regular potatoes a little smaller than the other two items. Add them to a large pot of boiling salted water.
- Gently boil them for about 25-30 minutes or until a fork goes into them easily.
- Drain them and then add them back to the pot to mash with a potato masher or use electric beaters. Add the butter, milk and a good pinch of salt and pepper and mash. Add more milk if it is too dry. Set aside the mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and celeriac for later.
- In a large frying pan with a lid, brown the ground beef over a medium heat. When it is browned, drain the excess fat and add the onions, garlic and carrots with a good pinch of salt and pepper.
- Stir and let carrots and onions soften for several minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Add the flour and stir it into the meat mixture then add the Worcestershire Sauce, tomato paste (or ketchup) and beef stock. Stir and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pan and let the meat simmer gently for 15 minutes. If it seems too thick then add a couple more tablespoons of beef broth. The sauce should not be runny at all. If it is, take the lid off and let the excess liquid evaporate. Check to see if you need any salt or pepper and add it if necessary.
- Add the frozen peas and corn and stir to distribute the vegetables evenly.
- Divide the beef mixture into the two dishes (see notes) and spread it out evenly.
- Drop dollops of the mash onto several spots on the meat and then spread it out to cover the beef. Use 2/3 on the large dish and 1/3 on the smaller dish. If you like, you can drag a fork over the surface of the mash to make little lines for texture.
- Cover and freeze the smaller dish for another day.
- Bake the larger dish at 400 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until it is bubbling at the edges.
- Let it sit for a few minutes when you take it out of the oven. Serve with HP Sauce, ketchup or as it is.
*If you want a thicker layer of mashed potatoes then increase the amount of potatoes you boil. I use a Corningware ‘Stoneware’ round dish about 10? in diameter and 2? deep. For the second, smaller dish use a Pyrex dish that had a lid that is about 8?x4? rectangular dish.