Traditionally shepherd’s pie is made with lamb and cottage pie is ground beef. This is a yummy and hearty dish. As a working mom I developed a couple shortcuts and if using instant potatoes isn’t going to work for you, by all means, boil and mash a few yukon golds. Typically on a weekend afternoon, I will brown 5 pounds of ground beef with a couple diced onions, 3 cloves of garlic, salt and pepper. After it cools down I weigh out in 1+ pound, 1 ½ pound and 2 pound batches. I then chuck them in the freezer for use during the week. They may become tacos, goulash, chili, or cottage pie some night during the week. For cottage pie, I thaw the meat in advance. I hope you enjoy this working mom variation of cottage pie.
Preheat oven to 375° F. Prepare a 9×13 inch baking dish with non-stick spray.
Follow the instructions on your Idahoan instant mashed potato box and make potatoes for 8 servings. Make sure they are the plain potatoes and not the bacon cheese, although now that I’ve typed that it sounds pretty good. But I go with the plain potatoes. Once cooked, set aside.
2 pounds ground beef (or lamb for traditional shepherds pie)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ t salt
½ t pepper
1 T cornstarch
2 T tomato paste
1 C beef broth
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T Italian Seasoning or Herbs de Provence
1 c frozen peas and carrots
1⁄2 C frozen corn
1 C shredded sharp cheddar cheese
To prepare the meat layer: In a large skillet, brown ground beef, onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook and crumble meat until browned. Drain excess grease.
In a small bowl mix your cornstarch with a tablespoon of the beef broth (I have tiny tupperware containers that I mix the sluree in and shake it fiercely)
Pour the cornstarch slurry over the meat mixture. Stir and cook for 1 minute.
Stir in tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, beef broth and seasonings. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in frozen peas, carrots and corn. Cook another 5 minutes until heated through.
Keep your meat and potatoes separate, don’t mix them. Spread meat mixture evenly into prepared pan. I give it a little tap or two on the counter. Spread mashed potatoes evenly over the top. I found that scooping my mashed potatoes in several huge dollops helps to spread evenly and not get it mixed in with the ground beef. Keep your layers nice and separated. Sprinkle the sharp cheddar cheese over the potatoes (I assess the cheese and usually add a little bit more, but that’s your call). Bake uncovered for 35 minutes until the casserole is nice and bubbly. Remove from the oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.