Thursday, April 14, 2011

Shepherds Pie - Easy, Hearty, Delicious

There comes a day, when you just don't want alot of fuss and bother over what to have for dinner.  This is the kind of day when you've had to re-navigate your way through the treacherous waters of long division, the dryer started making funny groaning noises, the neighbor stopped by to chat and chat and chat. To top it off, your 15 month old has emptied the kitchen cabinets, poured the dogs water all over the floor, sat in it and pitched a noisy fit every. single. time. things did not go his way.  Which - when you are 15 months old and lacking logic, happens quite often.  Now where was I?  Oh yes, dinner. I need an easy button at the end of a day like that.

This meal is, well, simple.  Not fancy or elaborate, what you have here, is a dish that has stood the test of time.  It seems to have originated in England or Ireland sometime in the 1700's with lamb as the primary ingredient. 300 odd years later, and still  showing up on  dinner tables around the world? This is hearty comfort food at it's best.

Have any clue why I like it?  Because it's a great way to use up leftovers of course!  Mashed potatoes are a kid and husband favorite at this house.  It is easy to make a huge  batch of them to go with roast chicken or beef on Monday  and save enough to top Shepherds Pie later in the week. 

There are as many variations on how to make this as there are  people who like to eat it, so switch it around to suit your tastes.  This is how I make it.

Shepherd's Pie
1 lb of lean ground meat- beef, venision, turkey or lamb all work well
1/2 cup finely minced onion(chopped small enough so picky kids are  not offended)
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons of flour
2 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried parley
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup peeled and thinly sliced carrots
3 cups mashed potatoes
2 Tbsp butter(optional)

In large skillet, brown ground meat and onion.  When meat and onion are cooked, add minced garlic and stir just for a minute or two.  Drain grease.  Sprinkle meat with flour, salt and pepper.  Cook and stir on medium heat for two minutes. (if you are using super lean meat like venison, you may need to add a tablespoon of butter at this point) Turn heat up and pour in stock & worcestershire.  Cook and stir until mixture comes to a boil and  thickens up.  Add in rosemary, parsley, thyme peas and carrots. Pour into greased two quart baking dish.  Spread mashed potatoes over top. Dot with butter, if using 

 Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until bubbling and browned.

  • Add 2 cups sauteed fresh mushrooms.  For best flavor and so they don't shrivel away to nothing, these need to be sauteed before adding to sauce.
  • Use 2 cups of frozen pea/carrot mixture 
  • Don't like peas and carrots?  Use whatever vegetable mix suits you. Parsnips are  a great addition
  • Have a bottle of red wine open?  Swap 1/2 cup of red wine for some of the beef stock. 
  • Freeze before baking.  This is an easily transportable dish 
  • Use leftover roast beef instead of ground meat.  
  • Use stew meat or steak chunks instead of ground.  If you do this, brown the individual pieces of meat, add stock and stir to deglaze bottom of pan.  Let simmer for an hour or two or until meat is tender.

1 comment:

  1. The shepard's pie was wonderful. I made a double batch. I am taking one casserole to friends home tomorrow. They are remodeling the kitchen and have no appliances etc. I made the other into a pan for us tonight and a serving for 2 to give to one of the ER docs that works way too much.

    The flavor was very good. I think I'll do a variation with turkey some time. I think the spices would be just right with the thyme and rosemary. Thanks for sharing the recipe.