Monday, January 21, 2013

Happy MLK Day! And a cottage pie recipe

Happy birthday, Dr. King!

It is a beautiful day for the annual National Day of Service, taking place today as well. If you are not working today, you may consider participating in a service project in your community.

Today, I have a yummy recipe for cottage pie! Cottage pie is like shepherd's pie, but with beef instead of lamb. If you have ground lamb, feel free to use it because it is delicious!

You can prepare in advance for this recipe by cooking your sweet potato ahead of time. I baked it last night while making dinner, which included some delicious cauliflower patties that I'll write about later.

This recipe is totally scaleable. If you're using one pound of meat, use your 8 x 8 Pyrex baking dish. If you are using two pounds, use a 9 x 13. It is also totally adaptable to all sorts of different flavors. Any herbs and spices are great here. Almost any veggies you have on hand work in the filling, and any mashable root vegetable works on the top. Even a winter squash puree would be great on top! Want to use onions and celery in the filling and celery root mash on top? Do it. In summer, try bell peppers and zucchini in the filling and carrot mash on top. Want to make a vegetarian version? Just make a whole lot of veggies (with some properly soaked and cooked beans if you tolerate them), add a little saucy gravy, top with your puree and bake it off. Anything goes!


1 - 2 good sized sweet potatoes (or equivalent amount of another mashable starchy veg like celery root, parsnips, carrots, turnips, squash, any combination of the above, or if you tolerate them, even regular potatoes.)
Some healthy fat, like coconut oil, olive oil, or rendered beef fat
1 - 2 pounds of grass-fed ground beef
Chopped vegetables. Today I used two big parsnips, five medium carrots, and a couple of chili peppers.
Seasonings of choice. Today I used thyme and parsley in the meat, and nutmeg, paprika and a touch of cinnamon in the sweet potato.
Sea salt to taste
1/4 - 1/2 cup homemade chicken or beef stock, optional
A spoonful of arrowroot starch, optional


Cook your sweet potatoes. I steam-baked mine in a covered glass dish with some water last night. This is easy to do while you're roasting or baking something for dinner. You can also steam them in a pot on your stove, roast them dry, or even use leftover oven fries from another meal. Peel sweet potatoes then mash them up with some of your healthy fat and seasonings to taste. Set aside.

You need to cook the filling veggies and the beef. Which one to do first? Well that depends on the veggies you chose. If it's winter and you're using carrots and parsnips, sautee them briefly in a little beef fat, then cover to allow to steam briefly, and cook maybe halfway. Stir in the ground beef and brown it.

If it's summer and you're using zucchini or other veg that cooks a lot faster, brown the meat first and then add the veg. Use your judgement here!

Add herbs and other seasonings. Whisk the arrowroot into the stock and pour over, mixing in well. You don't have to wait for it to thicken much in the pan because you're going to bake it. Don't have the patience for this part? Skip it. It just makes it a little more gravy-like. It's still great without.

Put the sweet potatoes on top, smooth out, and use the back of a fork to make it all pretty.

Bake at 400 until hot all the way through, bubbly, and maybe browning just a little on top. Let cool a little so you don't burn your mouth, then try not to eat the whole thing at once! YUM!
Leftovers keep well in the fridge. Enjoy cold or reheated. Make this every week!

Chef Mary

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