February might be known as the shortest month of the year, but it also can be among the coldest. When cooking during this time of year, whether it's a family meal or a romantic dinner for two on Valentine's Day, foods that take the cold weather into consideration are the best bets.
Cottage pie is a meal traditionally served in areas of Great Britain and Ireland. The name is sometimes used interchangeably with shepherd's pie, but that's a mistake. While shepherd's pie uses lamb in the recipe, cottage pie contains beef. Cottage pie features a layer of meat and vegetables topped with potatoes. Some people opt for a mashed potato topping, others arrange thin slices of potatoes to look like "shingles" on the cottage. This recipe for "Cottage Pies" from "Real Simple Dinner Tonight: Done" (Time Home Entertainment) from the editors of Real Simple prepares the pies into individual servings. They can be prepared up to two days in advance and then baked straight from the refrigerator as needed.
1. Heat oven to 425 F. Place the potatoes in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil and add 2 teaspoons salt. Reduce heat and simmer until just tender, 15 to 18 minutes. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Add the milk, butter, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper and mash to the desired consistency.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until no longer pink, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Fold in the peas and carrots.
3. Transfer the beef mixture to 4 individual baking dishes and top with the mashed potatoes. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.