Monday, March 15, 2021

Shepherd’s Pie

Savory beef with lot of veggies simmers in a heavenly savory sauce and is topped with classic creamy mashed potatoes and baked to perfection.  Hearty Shepherd's Pie to the rescue!

Shepherd's Pie

Since St. Patrick's Day is coming up this week I wanted to make a few Irish...ish items that you can make at home to celebrate the holiday with.  Today's dish is a sort of casserole that is scrumptious.  I've tried several recipes for Shepherd's Pie in the past and they all fell short, coming out bland and tasteless.  Last year I came across one that sounded really flavorful.  I made it back then and was wowed by the flavors, so I decided to make this again last night and provide you with the recipe.

This dish is not Irish by any means.  The gravy uses Italian seasonings and a bit of wine, which is a far cry from something the Irish would put in their dish.  But it works...Oh does it work!  And it's one of the tastiest Shepherd's Pie I've had, so it's definitely worth a try.  The veggies are standard, onions, carrots, and celery.  Plus some chopped up mushrooms thrown in for more meatiness.  This dish is a hearty, stick to your ribs, kind of dish.  One that you will go back for 2nds....or 3rds!  Make the full batch 'cause you are sure to want leftovers.

What Ingredients do I need?

  • Ground beef
  • Vegetables:  onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms, peas
  • Flour
  • Beef broth or stock
  • Herbs:  bay leaves, thyme, and rosemary
  • Garlic
  • Red Wine
  • Tomato Paste
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Mashed Potatoes

Substitutions and Variations

  • Traditional shepherd's pie uses ground lamb - feel free to use that, or turkey or even chicken would be great
  • If you don't like mushrooms, leave them out.  Or you can use white button, or other mushroom for the baby bellas
  • Change up the broth/stock to go along with the type of meat you are using
  • Leave out the wine and use more broth if you don't want alcohol
  • Substitute your favorite herbs.  Fresh stems will permeate your gravy, but you can use dried herbs if you like.
  • Try different mashed potatoes, such as garlic, cheese, or baby reds for a change.

Kitchen Tips and Notes

  • You need a large dish such as a 9x13 or equivalent casserole dish.
  • Place your dish on a baking sheet before putting in the oven to catch any spills from the gravy bubbling up.
  • You will need about 6-8 cups of mashed potatoes, so make a large batch.
  • If you want browner potatoes on top, turn on the broiler for a few minutes once it's finished cooking.  
  • "Finely" chop your veggies into a small dice so they cook quickly.
  • Chop and measure all your ingredients before you start cooking and the dish will be done faster.

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Shepherd’s Pie

serves 6-8

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and small diced
8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, small diced
2-3 carrots, peeled and small diced
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup red wine
2 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, left whole
2 sprigs thyme, left whole
1/2 cup frozen peas
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
6-8 cups cooked mashed potatoes

In a large skillet over medium high , add oil until shimmering.  Add the ground beef, season with salt & pepper and cook until browned, crumbling it with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Transfer the cooked beef to a separate dish.  Using what oil may be left in the pan add your vegetables.  Add additional oil if needed.  Cook them about 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Once they have softened season with salt & pepper.  

Add in the flour to the skillet and cook, stirring for 1 minutes.  Add the wine and scrape up any browned bit on the bottom of the skillet.  Add the broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, herb sprigs, and the peas.  Stir to combine.  Cook until the mixture comes to a simmer.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes stirring occasionally until gravy starts to thicken.  

Remove and discard the bay leaves and herb sprigs.   Add the meat back in along with any accumulated juices.  Stir to combine.   

Transfer the filling to a 9 x 13" or equivalent baking dish and spread evenly.   Spoon the mashed potatoes on top and carefully spread them using a rubber spatula, in an even layer.

Bake uncovered at 400°F for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are lightly golden and the filling has started bubbling around the edges. Remove from the oven and serve.  

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