Shepherd's Pie


I'm taking an (educated) guess that sometime around or during the Depression, my great-grandmother created a dish that was hot, filling and cheap. She then taught this dish to my grandfather who taught my grandmother since they had a lot of kids to feed and it somehow managed to be one of the very few dishes my mother ever learned how to cook. She tried to serve it to my father and me on a pretty regular basis. I'm sure I ate it a good 100 or so times before my taste buds properly developed and I realized just how gross it was.

Let me explain the dish. Boil some carrots, celery, onions and potatoes. Brown some ground beef. Use the grease and some flour to create a very water gravy. Add barely a dash of salt and pepper. Serve.

Are you curious to know whats under that pile of golden-y delicious mashed potatoes? 

That doesn't sound too appealing now does it? That's what I assumed Shepherd's Pie would be like. Yes, I know, Shepherd's Pie is topped with mashed potatoes but sometimes there would be mashed potatoes with that dreadful dish listed above. So it took a long time before I could ever think of making Shepherd's Pie. My first time was an failure. It tasted very similar to the dish my mom used to make, although I'm not sure how.

When I was sorting through recipes I hadn't made before, I came across this Shepherd's Pie recipe and decided to give it another shot.

Oh, nothing important. Just this pile of delicious awesome-ness.

Shepherd's Pie
Source: Peace, Love and French Fries
Yield: 6-8 servings
Printer Friendly

Meat Mixture Ingredients:
    • 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
    • 3 large carrots, peeled and coined
    • 2 celery stalks, diced
    • 1 large onion, diced
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
    • 1 cup frozen peas
    • 2 tbs. all purpose flour
    • 2 cups beef broth
    • 1 cup beer
    • 2 tbs. butter
    • 1 tbs. steak sauce (A-1)
    • 1 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped
    • 1 tsp. fresh sage, chopped
    • 1 tsp. fresh basil, chopped
    • salt and pepper

Potato Ingredients:
  • 2 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 3 tbs. unsalted butter
  • salt and pepper

1. Place the potatoes in a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil and cook for 12-15 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain water and set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 350.
3. In a small skillet, brown the ground beef. Drain any excess grease and set aside.
4. Melt the butter in a Dutch oven. Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until vegetables have softened.
5. Add the beef to the Dutch oven. Sprinkle the flour over the meat and vegetables and stir to coat. Cook for 1 minute, then add the beef broth and beer. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
6. Bring to a simmer, the reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the steak sauce, oregano, sage and basil. Cook for 15-20 minutes more or until all of the vegetables are fork-tender. Add the corn and peas and continue to cook until the mixture has thickened, another 5-7 minutes.
7. Spray 6-8 large ramekin dishes with non-stick cooking spray. (Or use a combination of ramekins and baking dishes.)
8. Scoop the meat mixture into the ramekins/baking dishes. Season with salt and pepper.
9. Add the cream and butter to the potatoes and mash until smooth. Stir in the cheese until melted and season with salt and pepper.
10. Spoon the mashed potatoes over the meat mixture. Place the ramekins/baking dish onto a large baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes then increase the oven to broil and broil for 2-3 minutes or until the potatoes are lightly golden brown.

WOW! I don't know if it was because I made these in individual dishes or what, but this was absolutely delicious. The recipe wasn't all that different from the one I had tried previously, but this was easily 100 times better. I had a very hard time convincing Tom not to eat seconds and thirds so we could have the leftovers for lunch.

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