So, ok, when you’re engaged, you get to register for things at places that range from the sublime (Tiffany– not that this was one of ours) to the ridiculous (REI– and yes, I realize that this is not ridiculous for everyone, but rest assured that it is for me). This is one of the more awesome parts of being engaged (besides the obvious “getting hitched to that person you really like”), and something over which you have much more control than other parts of the wedding planning (particularly if you have insane vendors, etc.). At any rate, we are not here to talk about weddings. Or registries, really. What we are here to talk about, friends, are ramekins–or, more specifically, delicious things that you can put into them.
When they’re not precariously stacked in your kitchen cabinet (yeah, one fell and smashed on the floor just the other day; as it fell, I said aloud, “Well, it was bound to happen”), ramekins can house delights from creme brulee to souffle of all sorts, but the meal in question here is cottage pie. In a fit of Winter Darkness Comfort Food Neediness, I turned to the trusty Jamie Oliver and worked with what I had. What resulted was nothing short of ceramic-housed bliss.
about 1/2 lb ground beef [use more or less, depending on what sort of meat-to-veggie ratio you prefer]
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 or 2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and cubed (about 1/4″ cubes)
2/3 cup of frozen peas (optional)
about 1/4 to 1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried sage
Salt and black pepper to season
your favorite mashed potato recipe [I confess: I used instant. I am not the biggest mashed potato fan, and don’t–yet!– have a go-to recipe. Any suggestions?]
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and brown the ground beef.
3. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the onions to the pan and cook until lightly browned.
4. Add the celery and carrots and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the beef, peas and herbs.
5. Add the chicken broth and season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Cook over a low heat for about 20 minutes, adding a bit more broth if it seems too dry
7. Transfer the filling into individual ramekins or a large serving dish.
8. Top with mashed potatoes and score the top with a fork. You can either dot a little butter over the potatoes or spray a little olive oil over the top for extra browning. [I used a pastry bag to pipe the potatoes over the top. Using a star tip creates the little ridges that get extra browned and wonderfully crispy.]
9. Bake at 375 for approx 20 minutes, until golden.You may want to finish it off under the broiler for a little extra browning.