Upside-down Cottage Pie

3/4 cup caramelized onions *
1 tablespoon butter
2 carrots, diced
2 parsnips diced
1 bulb fennel, chopped
6 oz crimini mushrooms, chopped
1 3/4 lb cubed sirloin
1/4 cup dry red wine, optional
1 sprig’s worth of rosemary, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1 bay leaf
fine flour (like Wondra)
freshly ground black pepper
beef stock

to serve:
2 lbs warm mashed potatoes


In a medium, Dutch or French oven saute the onions, herbs, spices, carrots, fennel, mushrooms, and parsnips in butter until the vegetables begin to soften.

Toss meat with the flour. Add meat to the vegetables. Stir until the meat is lightly browned. Add the liquids to just cover the mixture.

Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer, covered, 45 minutes or until the beef is tender, stirring occasionally.

Serve over mashed potatoes.

*I used leftover caramelized onions I made using this method and froze. I defrosted them in the pan in a bit of butter before adding the vegetables. Or caramelize 2 onions and use them instead.

My thoughts:

This year and I guess the end of the last has been my year to experiment with various types of beef stew dishes. I discovered that the stew meat at Aldi (where I am nearly every week anyway) is particularly good–not too fatty, not to lean and gets very tender equally well in the slow cooker or stove top.

I was going to make a traditional cottage pie (a shepherd’s pie made with beef instead of lamb) with it this time but I had the idea to invert it and serve the filling on top of the mashed potatoes and skip the baking part. The downside is that you don’t get the crispy corners of potato that you normally get with cottage pie but the upside it that it shaves like 30 minutes off the cooking time, making it possible to make this for a weeknight dinner (if you have 45 minutes to let it simmer virtually unattended on the stove) or a less time-consuming weekend meal. It also means less dishes and makes great leftovers.

I truly loved the results, the fennel and parsnips added a touch of sweetness and a ton of depth to the flavors and eliminated the need for any side dishes.

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