Skillet Meat and Potatoes

If you could combine shepherd’s pie and a potato gratin, you would have this dish! Great on a cold winter’s night.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
4 garlic cloves
1 cup heavy cream
2 thyme branches
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon olive oil, more as needed
1 pound ground lean beef
¾ teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed
Black pepper, as needed
1 cup thinly sliced onion
3 ounces spinach (3 packed cups)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
½ pound rutabaga (or use 1 pound of potatoes if you don’t want rutabaga)
½ pound russet potatoes
4 ounces Gruyère, grated (1 cup)

Step 1.
Crush and peel 2 garlic cloves. In a small pot over medium heat, combine cream, the crushed garlic, the thyme and ½ tablespoon sage. Bring to a simmer; cook until reduced to ½ cup, about 30 minutes. Strain and cool.
Step 2.
While cream cools, heat oil in an ovenproof 10-inch skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat. Add half the beef and brown well, crumbling with a fork as it cooks. Season with ¼ teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper; transfer meat to a paper-towel lined plate. Repeat with remaining meat, ¼ teaspoon salt and the pepper.
Step 3.
Add onion to pan drippings (drizzle with oil if pan seems dry). Cook, stirring, until onions are tender and golden, about 10 minutes. Peel and chop remaining 2 garlic cloves; add to pan with remaining sage. Return meat to skillet. Toss in spinach, a handful at a time, until wilted. Season with ¼ teaspoon salt, the Worcestershire and pepper to taste.
Step 4.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Peel rutabaga if using, and cut in half. Slice each half crosswise into ⅛-inch-thick slices. Peel potatoes and cut into ¼-inch-thick rounds. Layer half the rutabaga and potato slices over meat, alternating between rutabaga and potato, with slices overlapping one another. Season lightly with salt and pepper; top with half the cheese. Repeat with remaining vegetables and cheese. Spoon the reduced cream evenly over top.
Step 5.
Cover pan tightly with foil and bake until vegetables are very tender, 60 to 75 minutes. Uncover and cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes more. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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