Friday, March 4, 2011

Kick Ass Shepherd's Pie

Hey guys! I am so excited to tell you about this recipe and how I pulled it off flawlessly by "thinking like a chef" and bypassing some goof-ups I made early on and turning out an excellent meal. 

I am proud to say even the leftovers are now gone, which says a lot in this house. Jon was very sweet with his compliments: "This is so good that not only would I eat it again if you made it, I would feed it to other people." That's my man, forever the charmer. 

Let's rock out some Shepherd's Pie, kids! 

First things first, Shepherd's Pie is traditionally made with ground lamb or cubed lamb shoulder. Not only is mutton a little difficult and pricey to get our hands on here in Houston, we aren't the biggest lamb eaters. Instead, I used ground beef. It was magnificent. I imagine if you want to use beef stew meat diced into very small cubes (like 1/4") you could use that as well. 

I made my Shepard's Pie off of Chef Anne Burrell's Shepherd's Pie. If you want her recipe, click her name. How I made mine is listed below:

  • Olive oil, as needed
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • Salt
  • 3-4 heaping Tablespoons of flour
  • 1-2 ribs celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 quarter to 1/2 of a large onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped. (Garlic powder got me through because I just ran out of fresh)
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 3 to 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 fat pinch of thyme
  • 2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch dices
  • 3/4 to 1 cup milk (warm if you have the time)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2-1 cup frozen peas
You'll notice that mine will make a smaller portion, feeds 2 starving, college frat boys, or 4 people eating moderate portions with a dinner roll or something. As previously mentioned, mine is made with beef instead of lamb. In addition, I added a bit of onion because, hey, why not? Also, my Shepherd's Pie is differing from Chef Anne's because it is missing leeks, tomato paste and bay leaves. Why? I didn't have them and had to make do (due?). 

Haha. I just said doodoo. *crickets* Ahem, moving on.

I also didn't have fresh thyme, so I think like a chef and improvise. I used a pinch of the dry stuff instead. As far as the tomato paste goes, thought I had it but I didn't. It was tomato sauce. I used a quarter cup of it instead and slipped the remainder into a half used jar of pasta sauce that was hiding out in the fridge. No one was the wiser.

Enough stalling, let's get to the heavy lifting.


    Coat a wide pan, like a sauce pan, with olive oil and bring to a medium-high heat. Season the beef with salt and toss with the flour. Add the beef to the pan and brown well. Remove the beef from the pan and reserve in a bowl you have lying around. Ditch the oil in the pan and add a splash new olive oil.

    Add the celery, carrots, and onion to the pan. Season the mixture with salt and cook, stirring frequently until the vegetables are soft and very aromatic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Add the beef back to the pan and stir to combine.

    Add the tomato sauce and cook until the tomato sauce starts to brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Then, add the wine and cook until it reduces by half.

    I love cooking with wine. Sometimes it actually makes it into the dish.

    Add enough stock to just cover the surface of the beef mixture. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed. Sprinkle in the thyme. Bring the stock to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Partially cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes to an hour, or until the kids start complaining that they are starving. If you are using the stew meat, you will need to continue cooking until the meat is tender. When the stock level reduces replace with more to keep the meat just submerged.

    In the mean time, we have to make the mashed potato topping. Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover by 1-inch with tap water. Season the water with salt and bring the water to a boil. Boil the potatoes until they are fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the water from the potatoes They don't have to be soupy or super creamy. They need a little heft to them to stay on the top of the pie and form a hardy "crust".  Get one of the kids to mash them with a hand tool or mixer while slowly adding the butter and milk. Taste and season with salt, if needed.

    Remove the lid from the beef and add the peas. Simmer for 15 minutes more to allow the stock level to reduce. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed. When done, the beef mixture should be thick and stew-like. Not soupy.

    Preheat the broiler.

    Transfer the beef mixture to a wide, flat baking dish like a Corningware dish. Spread the mashed potatoes over the beef mixture in an even layer.

    Just like this...

    Place the baking dish under the preheated broiler. Broil until the potatoes are golden brown and crispy. Don't walk off! This only takes a few minutes and if you aren't paying attention, they will burn. If you are as truly awesome, your dish will come out like this:

    Okay, not very pretty, but damn tasty.


    1. ... and the dish looks delish, too. ;)

    2. Thanks for stopping by! Hope to see you back!


    I don't hate comments! What's cookin'?