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Less-Than-Traditional Cottage Pie for Boxing Day

I have always known that the day after Christmas is Boxing Day in the UK, Australia, and other Commonwealth nations; what I didn't know was what that meant. Honestly, I despise that sport, so I never took the time to read up on the holiday.

Today that changed when a friend, on a social networking site, wrote about Boxing Day. When I realized that it's actually a day about goodwill and generosity - when wealthy people in Britain would give a box, with a gift, to their servants - I decided we would honor that with a British dish for dinner. Okay, you know me, it's more like a British-inspired dish. In the end, my cottage pie would probably be unrecognizeable to a real Brit. Oh, well. It was delicious.

I learned, in my recipe hunt this afternoon, that the term 'cottage pie' is used when the meat inside is beef and 'shepherd's pie' refers to a lamb-based dish. The meat pie is topped with a potato crust and baked till the peaks are slightly browned. Not having any potatoes, I opted for a mashed sweet potato crust. I warned you that mine was less-than-traditional.

Ingredients

1 lb organic 96/4 ground beef
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
1-2 cups vegetables - traditionally it's chopped carrots, corn, and peas (I used carrots, corn, and kidney beans)
2 large sweet potatoes
4 T butter (1/2 stick)
1/2 C organic tomato sauce
1 t balsamic vinegar
Salt, pepper, other seasonings of choice (I used ground cumin and ground curry powder)

Method
Cube sweet potatoes, boil in salted water until tender (about 20 minutes).

While the sweet potatoes are cooking, melt 2 T butter in large frying pan.

Sauté garlic in butter until tender over medium heat. Add ground beef and sauté until no longer pink. Season with salt, pepper, ground cumin, and ground curry powder. Add balsamic vinegar. Add tomato sauce and cook, uncovered, over low heat for 10 minutes, adding more tomato sauce as necessary to keep moist.


Add the vegetables after the meat has initially cooked. And cook till fork tender.

Mash sweet potatoes in bowl with remaining butter, season to taste.

Place beef mixture in a baking dish. spread mashed sweet potatoes on top, making rough peaks with a fork so that there are peaks that will brown nicely. You can use the fork to make some designs in the potatoes as well.


Cook in 400 degree oven until bubbling and brown (about 30 minutes). Broil for last few minutes if necessary to brown some more.

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