This past Sunday, the hubby, baby girl and I were walking to the market and discussing what we should make for dinner. Baby girl immediately spoke up and said, "Apples!" Which, when paired with pork, would be delightful. However, the hubby wanted something fresh and light since we had stuffed our faces the night before at my new favorite restaurant, Tipsy Parson. He was thinking fish. But, with my shoulder still in a sling and the hubby becoming a little annoyed with all the cooking and cleaning, I encouraged him to help me make something that would last a few days.
As we sauntered through the market, I spotted some lovely ground beef at the grass-fed beef stand. We haven't eaten ground beef in ages, usually sticking to turkey or even pork, but it spoke to me. Then I saw some lovely russet potatoes and carrots and even a few tomatoes. I suddenly yelped, "Shepherd's pie!" I can now clearly see how our ancestors created classic dishes like this using the seasons as their guide. The hubby, a meat and potatoes man at heart, heartily agreed and was also thrilled that Shepherd's pie also meant no cooking for a few days. He diced an onion, the carrots and peeled the potatoes and set me loose on some one armed cookery.
The result was really an amazing Shepherd's Pie which tasted very similar to my favorite one from Tea and Sympathy. It was full of flavor with hints of thyme, sage and a wee bit of Worcestershire sauce. A delicious, comforting dish on a cold, dark evening. Baby girl loved it too, especially the mashed potato and cheese topping. Enjoy!
(I'd never made Shepherd's pie before, but it's very intuitive and easy to make. It's also freezes very well. Just compose it in a disposable pie tin or one that is freezer safe.)
What You'll Need:
For the Potato Topping
2 lbs Russet Potatoes peeled
A big pat of butter
1/4 - 1/2 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheese such as gouda or gruyere
For the Filling
1 lb ground beef2 cups carrots peeled and diced
1 large onion diced
2 large cloves of garlic minced
3-5 sprigs thyme
10 sage leaves or a couple bunches with that number of leaves
1/2 cup white wine
32 oz can of diced tomatoes
A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
Set a steamer basket in a large pot and then fill with water up to the basket. Set it over a high heat and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes, cover and steam until very soft. Discard the water, remove the steamer basket and return the potatoes to the pot. Add a nice chunk of butter, about 2 tablespoons, a good splash of milk, some salt and pepper and mash. If the potatoes aren't creamy enough, add milk until they are smooth. You want them to be spreadable. Set aside.
Place a large pan over a medium-high heat and add a splash of olive oil. Once it shimmers, add the onions, garlic, carrots, thyme and sage. Cook until the onions start to brown and the carrots are softened. Add the beef and cook until there is no pink. Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper and then add the wine, tomatoes and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and add a bit more Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper if needed.
Preheat the oven to 350. Remove the pan from the heat and spoon the beef mixture into a pie plate. Leave just a little bit of room, about a quarter inch for the potatoes. You may have extra left over. Depending on how much, you might consider making some mini pies in ramekins. Then, smooth the potatoes on top and sprinkle the cheese on top of the potatoes. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes until you see a little bubbling and the cheese is nice and brown.
To serve, spoon a little onto a plate and consider steamed broccoli or a fresh salad on the side. It's pretty much heaven.
Approximate Dinner Cost:
Cost per Meal: We got 8 servings at $1.50 each!