Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Shepherd's Pie Deconstructed

The first time I ate Shepherd's pie was in Portland at Kell's Irish Pub 2 years ago. I only tried a small taste because even though it is a wonderfully hearty dish, it is also quite 'meaty.' I have seen a lot of variations with it, some using leftover pot roast and the like. I never like to make it because I don't eat red meat and therefore when I do make it, I don't eat it! However, it just happens to be my daughter's absolute favorite meal in the entire world. She will even ask to have it for breakfast!

Do you know what Shepherd's Pie is? Basically it is a type of meat gravy with mushrooms, red wine, carrots and peas topped with mashed potatoes and then baked in the oven. At least that is the version I am familiar with and the one my family really enjoys. After weeks of begging from my daughter I finally made it yesterday. I can't begin to explain her excitement when I told what we were having for dinner so it was definitely worth it to see the utter look of joy on her face.

I think there could be plenty of vegetarian options here by using a meat substitute and I think it would taste fabulous. However, this time I used meat and so I bought organic hamburger from our health food store and the quality was extraordinary.

The first thing I did was cook up 1 lb of hamburger with salt, pepper and a little garlic. After it was done cooking I set it aside and sauteed 4 sliced carrots, 1/2 cup of diced onions and some sliced mushrooms. Once they were somewhat tender I added the meat back in and put in about 1 1/2 cups of organic beef broth and about 2 tbsp of worcestershire (if you are making it vegetarian there is a vegan worcestershire available and just swap the beef broth for veggie broth.)

I let it simmer for awhile. You can also add some red wine at this point to deepen the flavor if you would like. I added a good sized handful of peas before I transferred to my greased casserole dish. If you would like the sauce a bit more thickened you can take 2 tbsp of cornstarch dissolved in some ice water to make a mixture that is the consistency of syrup. Then, bring the meat mixture to a boil and add the cornstarch mix, stirring constantly. Boil gently until desired consistency is reached.

Next make your favorite mashed potato recipe. I used about 6 russets and I peeled them but left some skin. I cut them into chunks and boiled them in salted water. I like my mashed potatoes a little creamier and so I add a healthy amount of butter, cream, lots of pepper and some salt. Taste for seasoning. I like to put them in my mixer and beat them until they are fluffy but not gummy. Add more cream if they are too dry. Can you tell I love cream?

Then just spoon them over the casserole and spread evenly, don't pack the potatoes down over the meat. Bake it at 350 for about 25 minutes or until bubbly around the edges.



I know this picture isn't the best but you kind of get the idea of how it looks once it is baked. I make Irish Soda Bread to serve with it, super easy to make. I will share it with you soon. Yes, my daughter ate the leftovers for breakfast and she ate 4 helpings last night at dinner so I guess I would call it a success!



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