aka The Slow Cook
The biggest issue teaching cooking classes with kids is keeping them busy.
Children in groups will soon start a riot if they lose focus. So one of my primary aims when designing our "food appreciation" sessions is making sure they have plenty to do. Here's a recipe for "cottage pie" that keeps them busy peeling and chopping vegetables, stirring, and finally mashing potatoes. And they love the end result.
Most of you are probably more familiar with "shepherd's pie," but in traditional British Isles cookery that's made with lamb. (Make's sense, no?) This version with beef has a long history as "cottage pie," with the same ending: you smear the beef and vegetable layer all over with mashed potatoes.
Start by peeling 3 large Russet potatoes (about 2 pounds) and cutting them into 1 1/2-inch chunks. Place these in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook until potatoes are soft. Drain.
While potatoes are cooking peel two medium onions and cut into small dice. Peel three medium carrots and cut into small dice. Place onions and carrots in a saucepan greased with 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter (or extra-virgin olive oil) over moderately high heat. Season with salt. Cook vegetables till soft, then add 1 1/2 pounds ground beef. Brown the beef, stirring occasionally.
Season beef and vegetable mix with 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1/3 cup beef broth, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the kernels from one ear of fresh corn (about 1/2 cup), and 1/2 cup frozen peas. Continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated, then pour the mix into a baking dish.
While the potatoes are still hot, mash them with 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter. Add about 1/3 cup warm milk and continue mashing until potatoes are smooth. Season with salt, then spread potatoes evenly over the beef and vegetables.
Place in a 400-degree oven four 30 or 40 minutes---until the "pie" is bubbling hot and potatoes have begun to brown around the edges. Switch oven to broil and remove when potatoes are lightly browned.
Your "pie" can easily be made ahead, refrigerated and reheated. I suppose it could be made with ground turkey instead of beef if your family objects to red meat. You could even substitute kidney beans for the meat for a vegetarian version.
Serve this with a green salad and you have a simple dinner kids will love. And they'll hardly notice the vegetables.