Comfort foods run supreme in my household this time of the year and one of the most satisfying meals when the weather is dark and damp is meat pies. Try as I might, however, I always struggle with making a nice pie crust. My solution is to skip the crust all together and to top the pie with mashed potatoes instead.
This recipe is courtesy of Fine Cooking magazine and is rich, hearty and thoroughly satisfying and is reminiscent of a shepherd’s pie. Because I started with a more tender piece of meat which was then slow cooked, the meat is fork tender while the addition of porcini mushrooms adds even more flavor and texture to the dish. I love the tanginess that the addition of Greek yogurt adds to the mashed potato topping. If you don’t have Greek yogurt you can substitute sour cream or even half-and-half.
So when the weather turns cold, turn on your oven and bake up this hearty dish for dinner. It will warm you inside and out.
COTTAGE PIE w/ BEEF & CARROTS
For the beef stew:
1-3/4 cups low-sodium beef broth
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-1/2 pounds thin-cut steaks, 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick, trimmed of any excess fat or gristle
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 small onions, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dry white wine
For the topping:
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-1/2- to 2-inch chunks
5 tablespoons unsalted butter (at room temperature, cut into 3 pieces)
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
To make the stew:
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.
- Bring the broth to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms then remove from the pan from the heat, cover, and steep for at least 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy stew pot or shallow 5-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Pat the steaks dry, season lightly with kosher salt and pepper, and put only as many in the pan as will fit without crowding.
- Sear the steaks, flipping once, until nicely browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side.
- Set aside on a platter, and repeat with the remaining steaks.
- Lower the heat to medium and add the carrots, celery, onions, and thyme.
- Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 7 minutes.
- Stir in the tomato paste, and cook for a few minutes.
- Add the flour, stirring to blend, and cook for another minute.
- Add the wine, bring to a simmer, and reduce the heat to low.
- With a slotted spoon, scoop the mushrooms from the broth and transfer to a cutting board. Coarsely chop the mushrooms and add them to the vegetables. Slowly add the broth, being careful to hold back the last few tablespoons, which may contain grit from the mushrooms.
- Cut the steaks into 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes and add to the pot, along with any juices.
- Cover tightly and transfer to the oven. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the meat is tender, about 1 hour. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Set the stew in a warm place, and increase the oven temperature to 375°F.
To make the potato topping:
- Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover by an inch with cold water. Add 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.
- Bring to a simmer over medium heat, partially cover, and simmer until the potatoes are easily pierced with a skewer, about 20 minutes.
- Drain, and return the potatoes to the saucepan. Put the pan over low heat and shake or stir the potatoes until a floury film forms on the bottom of the pot, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Using a ricer, food mill, or potato masher, mash the potatoes. Stir in the butter with a broad wooden spoon.
- Once the butter is thoroughly absorbed, add the yogurt and stir vigorously until it is thoroughly blended in.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Assemble and bake:
- Lightly coat a shallow 3-quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
- Spoon the stew into the baking dish.
- Spread the potatoes on top in an even layer and sprinkle with the paprika.
- Bake at 375°F until the stew is bubbling around the sides, and the top is lightly browned, 35 to 45 minutes.