Fiesta Cottage Pie puts a South-of-the-border twist on the classic shepherd’s pie. It’s everything you love about tacos and tostadas, baked into a casserole.
You might raise an eyebrow at the unsweetened cocoa ingredient. This is a prime ingredient in Latin molé dishes. It gives the binding sauce richness and depth without a hint of chocolate flavor. Don’t skip it!
Try this casserole for Taco Tuesday, and most definitely for Cinco de Mayo. Olé¡
Fiesta Cottage Pie Recipe
1-1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk or cream
Salt to taste
2 pounds chuck ground beef
1 cup diced sweet onions
3 Tablespoons chili powder (not cayenne)
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon Hungarian sweet paprika (do not substitute regular or hot)
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano, crushed between your palms to release flavor
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
1 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce, or to taste
1 Tablespoon salt, or to taste
1 can (14.5 ounces) petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (4 ounces) diced mild green chiles, undrained
1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 small sweet red bell pepper (sweet capsicum), cored and diced (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup sliced black olives, optional (about 2.25 ounces)
2 Tablespoons yellow cornmeal
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup sliced green onions (scallions)
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup nacho cheese tortilla chips, crushed (measure after crushing)
Shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, and sour cream as accompaniments
Cook the sliced potatoes in salted water until soft. Drain and return to the pot. Heat, stirring often, to evaporate any excess water. Add butter and milk. Mash until smooth. Stir in beaten egg and salt to taste. Set aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Coat a 13- x 9-inch glass casserole dish with cooking spray.
Place a large, deep, hard-anodized skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. When hot, add the ground beef, sweet onions, chili powder, unsweetened cocoa powder, Hungarian sweet paprika, cumin, oregano, cilantro, hot pepper sauce, and salt. Saute, breaking up the ground beef, until the meat is no longer pink. Drain excess oil.
Add the diced tomatoes, green chiles, corn, red bell peppers, black olives, cornmeal, and garlic. Stir well and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes until thickened, stirring occasionally. Taste and add salt, if needed.
Pour the beef mixture into the glass baking dish and smooth to an even layer. Top with the mashed potatoes.
Whisk the beaten egg into the cooled mashed potatoes. Drop dollops over the meat in the casserole and smooth to an even layer. Sprinkle with green onions, Cheddar cheese, and crushed nacho tortilla chips.
Bake for 30 minutes, until cheese is melted and the casserole is bubbly. Let rest for 15 minutes. Serve each with shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, and a dollop of sour cream.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
• I sometimes add a small can of black beans, drained, when adding the tomatoes and corn.