This dish was inspired by Top Chef Colorado’s meat and potatoes challenge. It is what I consider to be American comfort food at its finest. It’s the perfect dish for this time of year when it’s cold outside and you’re craving something supremely satisfying.

Ingredients

2 lbs. russet potatoes
½ cup whole milk
4 tablespoons butter
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup shallots, diced
1 cup red bell peppers, diced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
¼ cup tomato paste
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
8 oz. pepperjack cheese, shredded

Directions

Peel the potatoes and cut into ½ inch dice. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, cover, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, decrease the heat to medium to maintain a simmer and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the water. Place the milk and butter in the saucepan with potatoes, add 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. With an electric mixer or immersion blender, puree until smooth. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Heat canola oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the shallots and bell pepper, cooking 3-4 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook for 1 minute. Add the ground beef, and cook, covered, until browned, 4-5 minutes. Add thyme, red chili flakes, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, and ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, stirring to combine. Dissolve the tomato paste in ½ cup hot water, and add to the meat mixture, along with the Worcestershire sauce. Simmer on low heat, uncovered, for 10 to 12 minutes, until sauce has thickened.

Spread meat mixture evenly over an 11 inch by 7 inch baking dish. (Tip: If you can't find lean ground beef and only have 80/20 meat to fat ratio, use a slotted spoon to transport the meat without excess grease into the baking dish.) Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal and prevent the mixture from bubbling over. Top with shredded cheese. Place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

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