I am lucky to be close to my sisters, despite the 100s of miles that separate us, so when I got this text from S., I could only laugh as I obligingly put the ingredients for Shepherd’s Pie, sometimes called Cottage Pie, on my grocery list. After all, she was one of the first subscribers to this blog, I owed her. The good news is, Shepherd’s Pie has been one of my go to comfort foods for some time. It freezes/reheats well and it makes a great workday lunch in the middle of the winter.
Shepherd’s pie is a part of English cuisine and came about in the 1700s when the potato became easily accessible to the working class. It’s a simple layered dish: ground lamb (or beef or venison) with vegetables (usually peas, carrots, and corn), under a mashed potato crust. While most recipes call for ground meat, this is also an excellent way to use up leftover tender roast beef. So, in honor of Mrs. Hawes, I present my (non-leftover) Shepherd’s Pie recipe.
2 pounds potatoes
Milk, enough to make potatoes creamy
2 tblsp butter
salt & pepper
¾ cup chopped fresh carrots
¾ cup fresh or frozen peas
1 lb ground beef (lamb, venison, even turkey)
8 oz mushrooms
2-3 cloves garlic
½ cup beef stock
1-2 tblspn flour
2 tsp Worcestershire
2 tsp rosemary, chopped
1) Pre-heat oven to 400°F
2) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Peel and dice potatoes into 1.5-2 inch cubes. Cook potatoes in water until done (easily pierced with a fork).
3) Drain the potatoes and return to the pot. Add butter, in small pieces, salt & pepper to taste, and mash with a potato masher. Add milk, a little at a time, to reach desired consistency. You will bake the pie, so if you generally prefer dry mashed potatoes, makes this a bit moister than you normally would.
4) (while the potatoes cook) Cut your carrots into small chunks, about the size of peas, and toss with the frozen peas.
5) Slice mushrooms, dice onion, and mince garlic. (check potatoes, mash if ready)
6) Add about a tablespoon of olive oil, or one turn, to a large sauté pan. Let the oil heat for about 1 minute over medium-high heat, then add onion and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Then add mushrooms and brown for another 7-10 minutes.
7) Add ground beef and cook through.
8) In a small bowl, mix flour with a quarter cup of the beef stock, stirring well to remove all lumps.
9) Add Worcestershire, rosemary, and remaining 1/2 cup broth to ground beef. Cook on medium-high for about 5 minutes, then add flour-broth paste. Cook until sauce thickens, forming a gravy.
10) Stir peas and carrots into the meat mixture and pour into a deep 9×13 pan.
11) At this point, your potatoes should have cooled a bit, beat egg, and mix well into the potatoes. Spread evenly over the layer.
12) Place in 400 °F oven and bake until potatoes crust browns.