Adapted from The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook by Dinah Bucholz
In Argentina, we have a very common dish we call “pastel de papas” which is essentially what the British call cottage pie with a few differences. I have always loved the pastel de papas my mom makes but I wanted to know what the “real” cottage pie tasted like. Being a Harry Potter fanatic, I have, of course, a Harry Potter cookbook from which I got the recipe. Here are the original proportions but I actually made half.
- 1½ lbs ground beef
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
- ½ tsp salt
- Pepper, to taste
- 3 large Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters (it’s very general, I know, sorry)
- 4 tbsp butter
- ½ cup milk
- 1½ tsp salt
- Preheat the oven to 350F (176C).
- In a large skillet or wide saucepan, brown the meat, breaking up the clumps with a wooden spoon, until it is completely browned and crumbly. Drain the fat off the meat and transfer the meat to a plate. Wipe the skillet with a paper towel. Add the oil and heat it. Add the onions and sauté them over medium heat until they turn golden brown. Return the meat to the skillet and stir to combine.
- Sprinkle the flour over the meat mixture and stir. Slowly pour in the chicken stock while stirring. Add the tomato paste, chopped carrots, salt and pepper. Raise the heat and bring to a simmer. Cook the filling until it is tick and bubbling and the carrots have softened, about 15 minutes.
- Cover the potatoes with water ina pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes break apart when pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Add the butter, milk and salt. Mash everything together with a potato masher.
- Pour the meat mixture into a 13×9-inch baking dish. Spoon the mashed potatoes on top. Bake the pie in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes or until it is bubbling around the edges and the potato crust turns a deeper yellow.
Comments: We all liked this cottage pie and agreed that it is different from what we eat in Argentina. I think the chicken stock (something we don’t use in the pastel de papas) gives the meat a slightly saltier and more savory taste. I don’t really have a preference; they’re just different. I recommend that, if you are making the whole recipe, you use a very large skillet or even a pot for the meat mixture; I made half and I was a bit tight with the 10-inch skillet I always use. If you want to make shepherd’s pie, substitute the beef for lamb.