You know what’s crazy? Life! Goodness, I haven’t posted a recipe for quite awhile. But the weather around here has been cooling quickly, which always makes me want to slow down and cook something hearty. My first Fall-feeling meal of the year? Shepherd’s pie.
Ok, well it’s not exactly shepherd’s pie, because I used beef as opposed to lamb. With beef, people give it all kinds of names like Cattle Rancher Pie or Cottage Pie (which seems to be the most popular). Whatever you wanna call it is fine with me, I just want you to give it a try because it’s really quite delicious.
There are two parts, the filling, and the mashed potato crust. Let’s start with the mashed potatoes. Here’s what you need:
• 5-10 medium/small potatoes (how many depends on how big they are – if you aren’t sure you have enough, err on the side of too much, because you can always save the extra potatoes and eat them on their own later)
• 3/4 stick of butter
• 2/3 cup cream
• 2/3 cup milk
• 1 egg yolk (not pictured)
• 1/4 cup mayonnaise
• 2 tsp garlic powder
• 1 tsp nutmeg
• salt & pepper to taste
First, wash, peel & dice the potatoes. Add them to a pot of boiling water and cook until tender (about 15 minutes if they’re cut into a medium dice). When the potatoes are about done, melt the butter in a saucepan or microwave, and heat the cream & milk in another saucepan or in another bowl in the microwave.
I myself prefer rustic mashed potatoes with the skins and all, but for this dish we want the potatoes really smooth. So after they’re cooked, use an electric hand mixer to beat the potatoes up pretty good. Add the butter and mix again. Then add the mayo, nutmeg, garlic powder, and about half of the milk/cream mixture, and whip that up as best as you can. Then add the egg yolk and mix in quickly (to keep it from coagulating if the potatoes are too hot), along with salt and pepper to taste. If it seems too thick, add more of the milk/cream and whip it again. Repeat this process until the potatoes are creamy and smooth. Set aside, covered.
Next, let’s create the filling. Here’s what you need:
• 2 lbs ground beef (not pictured)
• 1 yellow onion, small dice
• 2 carrots, small dice
• 1 parsnip, small dice
• 1 rutabaga, small dice
• 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
• 3 Tbsp AP flour (not pictured)
• 2 cups chicken stock
• 2 Tbsp tomato paste
• 2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
• 2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
• 1 cup frozen peas
• 1 cup frozen sweet corn
• salt & pepper to taste
• extra virgin olive oil
I don’t typically cook with extra virgin olive oil, but we aren’t going to be cooking at a high temp, so it works well in this dish. First, make sure you cut everything before you start cooking so it’s all ready. That’s key, so you can focus on the food while it’s cooking, as opposed to feeling rushed to chop things for step 2 before step 1 burns.
Preheat your oven to 400, and heat a pan on medium low heat. Add about 1-2 tbsp olive oil to the pan and immediately add the onions. Sweat that for a minute or two, then add the carrots, parsnips & rutabaga. Add a pinch or two of salt and sweat those veggies for 2-3 minutes, until the onions become translucent. Add the garlic and stir, then immediately add the beef and turn the heat up to medium high.
The reason you turn the heat up is because 2 lbs of beef is a lot. If the heat is too low, then all the liquid from the beef will just sit in the pan and everything will boil. You don’t want that. Kicking up the heat will cook the liquid off faster, but watch it closely because you don’t want it to burn.
Once the beef is browned and cooked, add the flour and stir to coat everything evenly. Then add the chicken stock, tomato paste, thyme, rosemary & parsley, and stir together well so everything is mixed evenly. Remove the mix from the heat and add salt and pepper until it tastes right. Once the salt and pepper levels are good, add the peas and corn, mix together well, and put the mix into a baking dish. This is enough for a 7×11 pan, and a 7×7 pan. Cover the top of the filling with mashed potatoes, starting around the edges and making sure the surface is sealed so the juices don’t bubble out.
Bake in your preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove it from the oven and let is sit for at least 15 minutes to cool down, or you’re gonna have some burned tongues around the table. This will feed 6-8 people, depending on how hungry everyone is.
Greta has become particularly opposed to green vegetables lately, so I knew this dish was a winner when the peas were clearly visible and she devoured two plates full. But the flavor was also deep enough for the adults, too. So the next time you have a cooler-than-usual day, give this dish a try. I guarantee we’ll be making it again soon.