Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Cottage Pie and 24 Hours of Sympathy

Whilst I was growing up, there wasn't a whole lot of home cooking in my house. Most of the cooking I experienced as a child was done by my Nana. When I was sick, though, there were two things I remember having; boiled eggs and soldiers, and tomato soup. I was fed these when I was sick with regularity. I now only ever want to eat them when I'm feeling under the weather.

You know how I've been really really swamped the last couple of weeks? Well, when you're super busy and everyone else around you has a cold, you tend to eventually succumb yourself. I started getting quite sick on Monday morning and by Monday evening I felt absolutely rotten. Lucky for me, my weekend is a Tuesday/Wednesday one so I could rest at home and get over my speedy cold without having to miss work.

The other thing about being sick as a child was that my Mother had a rule that you get 24 hours of sympathy when you're sick and thats it. I don't know if she ever kept hard or fast to this rule, but as an adult I now pretty much only allow myself to mope around for that long when I'm sick. I really feel like giving myself a swift kick in the ass after a day can really help me get better faster. One other lucky thing for me is that I tend to only get sick once a year, and almost never for longer than two days. I love my immune system. It's terribly good to me.

When you're getting over being sick, a nice big hearty meal can really help boost you out of it. Since being sick always makes me homesick, I figured that I should bust out something charmingly English to make me feel better.

Cottage Pie

Some people may call this Shepherds Pie, but they aren't really correct. See, Shepherd's Pie is called as such because it is traditionally made with ground lamb. If you're making it with beef it's called cottage pie. Either way, you're looked at ground meat sauteed with onions, carrots and peas, then topped with mashed potatoes and baked in the oven. It's a very delicious hearty meal.

1lb Ground Beef
1 Medium Onion
2 Carrots
1 Cup Frozen Peas
2 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley
Salt and Pepper
1/2 Cup Finely Grated Gruyere Cheese
2 1/2 Cups Mashed Potato

Preheat the oven to 375F. Dice the onion and sautee it in a little olive oil until it is softened and the onions start to brown. Grin in some salt and pepper. Next, add in the carrots. Cook for another five minutes and then add in the ground beef. Cook until the beef is starting to brown a little. Take off the heat and add in the frozen peas and parsley.

Tae a medium casserole dish, something around 8x8 or so and fill the bottom with the meat mixture. Then, spread the mashed potatoes in a layer over the meat. Use the tines of a fork to gently drag across the potatoes and then scatter the grated gruyere over the top. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn your broiler on high. Let the broiler brown the tips of the mashed potatoes for about five minutes, just to get a little color and a little crisp.

If you have a favorite mashed potato recipe, by all means use that. You'll want about two and a half cups. Or, you can use this one:

5 Medium Sized Potatoes, scrubbed and diced.
3 Tablespoons Butter
3 Tablespoons Milk
Lots of Salt and Pepper
1/2 Cup Finely Grated Gruyere Cheese

Boiled the diced potatoes in salted water for twenty minutes. Drain them and put them back into the original pan. Mix in the butter, salt, pepper, milk and Gruyere. Mash the ever loving heck out of them until they are creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Makes four nice big servings.

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