Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bison Cottage Pie



There aren't many foods I can think of that are more comforting than this bison cottage pie. After all, it's got meat, gravy, and mashed potatoes, and in my book that's about all you need when you've got a case of the chills, the nasties, or the blues. Well, that and a big glass of red wine.

The semantical among you may wonder why I am calling this a cottage pie, rather than a shepherd's pie. Well, according to many definitions, cottage pies use minced beef, while shepherd's pies go with minced lamb ... I am using neither in favor of ground bison, and so I decided I would call it whatever I pleased.

Even if bison weren't lower in fat and calories, which it is, I think in many situations I would still like it better than ground beef. When raw, it smells to me like freshly mown grass, and some of that flavor carries over once it has cooked in a way that I don't even get from grass fed beef, giving it more depth and interest.

I also indulged in a tiny cheat with this pie. I woke up on a Saturday with a bee in my bonnet for a cottage pie, and I wanted it that same day. So, rather than run around finding veal bones to make stock to make a brown sauce to then make a demi glace I bought a ready-made condensed demi glace. Shock and horror! But, in looking at the ingredients - veal stock, tomato paste, mire poix - I felt emboldened to give it a go.  Was it as good as the "real thing?" No, and I wouldn't use it for making a sauce, but here, used in the gravy for the bottom layer of the cottage pie,  it was a perfect solution for a time crunch. 

Here's what to do.

Bison Cottage Pie


For the bottom layer: 
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 large white onion, chopped
6 or 7 carrots, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground bison
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon flour
1/3 cup red wine
1 ounce demi glace, dissolved in one cup of veal or beef stock, kept warm
2 cups peas, fresh or frozen, thawed

For the mashed potato topping:
1 pound Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into rough cubes
3-4 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup cream
salt and pepper, to taste

In sautoir over medium heat, saute the onion and carrot  in 2 tablespoons of butter until the carrots are soft.  Add garlic, cook another 1 - 2 minutes. Remove and set aside. Add the bison meat to the pan, breaking it up and stirring until browned. Remove and set aside. Deglaze the pan with the wine; cook until reduced by 2/3. Add 1 tablespoon of butter, when melted add flour and combine, cooking for an additional minute. Add the vegetables, the meat, and the peas to the pan and stir to combine. Add enough of the demi glace/stock mixture to moisten all of the contents of the pan, plus a little extra liquid, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread in a 2 quart rectangular casserole so that the bison mixture reaches 1/2 way up the sides of the dish. Set aside to cool thoroughly.

Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in well salted water. Drain and pat dry. Mash and add butter, cream, salt and pepper until the potatoes are spreadable but not too wet. Spoon into a large Ziploc bag, cut a small hole in the corner, and pipe on top of the meat mixture, making sure to create peaks in the potatoes, as this is what will brown. Dot with butter, and bake in a 350 degree oven until brown. I finished the cottage pie under the broiler for additional browning.  If you have extra, as I did, bake this in a ramekin - it makes an awesome lunch the next day:



I think this would be a great dish to set out at Thanksgiving or a holiday buffet. Or to devour, solitarily ...  not that I did that. I had help, in the form of Poppa Trix.






31 comments:

  1. Of course you got the name right. Unless you wanted to go with bisonherd pie. (sounds rather dangerous, actually)

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  2. I've never had bison before. The pie looks delicious... even if you cheated. ;)

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  3. Ooo! Lovely! I love using bison - so tasty and a healthier alternative.

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  4. I am a big fan of hearty shepherds pie. It may take a specialty grocers to get my hands on some bison, but it would be well worth it. I like the ramekin idea for this dish. Your pictures are very tempting! Thanks for sharing.

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  5. Nothing beats the comfy basics sometimes. I have to say I never had it with bison meat before but it sounds yummy. The bison burgers I have had in the past were a success.

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  6. I wish I had this for dinner. It looks delicious.

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  7. Oh, my hubby would be thrilled to come home and find this on the table! Your mashed potato topping looks gorgeous!

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  8. Heck ya it looks good! Even in its half eaten glory it looks a lot better than a lot of stuff I see served for dinner elsewhere. Poppa Trix is truly lucky indeed!

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  9. Simply gorgeous with the lovely potatoes on top, what more we will enjoy as potatoes are up there on in the list of ingredients.

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  10. wonderful dear - espagnole in a jar, never heard of such, but then, I can't find find bison in my grocer's case either... and I would probably get slapped if I asked when shopping in our Family Dollar Stores 'Excuse me, could you help me locate your sautoir?" ... nope, ain't happening down here....

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  11. Oh man. I want this right now. I am in need of some comfort food. Great pics!

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  12. Wow, the pie looks so delicious!

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  13. You took the time to pipe your mashed potatoes into lovely squiggles and that made the pie look inviting (not that anything piled high with mashed potatoes isn't!). And the bison, well I've never had bison meat before but to hear you describe it smelling like mown grass makes me want to run out into my garden and....never mind, I know I've got to get me some bison meat very soon!

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  14. I have not hear of bison pie before. Got to try it, sounds wonderful.

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  15. Never had bison but this looks fantastic. Creative dish as always whatever you call it

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  16. Oh, my gosh - this looks wonderful! You made me laugh when you said you could call it whatever you pleased. I so agree! And, I like cottage pie so much better. I have never had bison before even though I see it at the store sometimes. I think my family would enjoy this recipe. I love how your cottage pie looks, especially your mashed potato topping.

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  17. Got it! That the best non-shepherd's pie I've seen in a long time. I think this is ameal we have all come to love. Your version sounds delicious. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

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  18. Love that sayings...having a 'bee in your bonnet'. How cute is that! Very warm and comforting meal here. It's clearly the fall with this recipe!

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  19. That is an incredible cottage pie! Not sure I could get my hands on bison in Cayman but I bet I could make a convincing version with just beef :)

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  20. Drool! Cottage pie and Shepherd's pie are one of our favorite comfort and cold weather foods. Bison is a meat I would really love to try some day and it does sound good. I had the cottage pie vs Shepherd's pie talk with an English friend whom assumed it was all the same. His mom cooked cottage but called it shepperd's. Regardless I think your bison cottage pie looks mouthwatering. Have a great weekend & hope you are well :)

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  21. I don't think there is anything wrong with shop bought demi glace, as a student I don't have the cooking facilities to do all of the things you do, but I do crave cottage pie (wth minced beef, not lamb!) very much :) Thanks for the recipe, the photos look amazing!

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  22. How delicious this looks! I confess I have never made my own stock - too much of a pfaff. I think I could eat this pie all by myself - I love this kind of meal.

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  23. Looks super yummmmmm... if u like plz follow me on

    http://mycookingdiarys.blogspot.com/

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  24. I just made shepherd's pie and as hard as I tried, I couldn't pipe the potatoes. Your's looks so much better than mine.

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  25. I've actually never tried bison, and your description intrigues me. Sounds like a must-try!

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  26. normally bison wouldn't appeal to me but you definitely make this look incredible!

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  27. Of course you know I'm a huge fan of bison and I always have some on hand, this is a terrific comfort food, your potato topping looks gorgeous!

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