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Shepherds Pie Recipe

Posted By Susan On January 11, 2011 @ 12:04 pm In Beef and Veal,Casseroles,Cooking,Lamb,Quick and Easy,Recipes,Rice and Potatoes | 35 Comments

My first introduction to shepherd’s pie was in the lunch line at my high school cafeteria.  That was many more moons ago than I’d care to share.  But, not so long ago that I don’t still remember.  I’d never heard of it before and had no idea what it was.  All I knew was that it was some kind of meat covered with mounds of mashed potatoes.  That was enough for me to give it a try.  And, I liked it, which was more than I can say about the rest of the so called food they served in that cafeteria.  It may have been mystery meat, but it was pretty darn tasty mystery meat.

I never thought much about shepherd’s pie after high school, and spent many years contentedly living my life without it.  It wasn’t until about four years ago, when I found myself in Scotland, that shepherd’s pie and I were reacquainted – and became BFFs.

The exact origin of shepherd’s pie is a bit sketchy.  By some accounts, it is a British dish.  By others, it’s an Irish one.  Still others, swear that the dish’s roots are Scottish.  The only thing that most will agree on is that it came from somewhere over the pond.  I say, who cares?  I’ve enjoyed it in all three countries and have never tasted a version that I didn’t love. 

Shepherd’s pie  is a savory dish made with a meat base – usually ground lamb, beef or a combination of the two -  that is simmered in a brown sauce with vegetables, topped with potatoes and baked to burnished perfection. From what I gather, the dish was created by resourceful housewives as a way to use up leftovers. It makes sense.  Take a little of this and a bit of that, bake it all together in a pie and voilà!  It’s not leftovers anymore.  It’s a whole new and delicious dinner.  I don’t think there is one right way to make it either, as I’ve seen and heard of it done many different ways with an assortment of ingredients.

It’s been a little gray and dreary lately here in SGCC Land!  We’re not getting slammed by the same bitter cold, icy blast  that many of my blog brethren are, but it’s still pretty miserable just the same.   The wind is howling and blowing something fierce outside.  I’m just praying that none of those low-lying branches perched over my roof decide to break loose and fall on my house!  When the weather gets like this my body craves hearty, rustic comfort foods that warm from the inside out.  A shepherd’s pie is the perfect thing.

Making a shepherd’s pie is pretty easy peasy.  For my pie, I used a mixture of ground lamb and beef.  I also added some onions, carrots, peas and corn.  I don’t know about you, but I just can’t eat mashed potatoes without corn.  It must be some kind of personality defect.

The first thing you need to do is sauté your onions and carrots in a frying pan.  Then, add the meat, seasonings and some stock, and let it all simmer for a while.

I thicken the mixture with a little flour, but you don’t really have to if you don’t want to.  I just think it gives a little more body to the sauce.  I also use frozen peas and corn, but if you’re a perfectionist and have loads of extra time on your hands, by all means, use fresh.   But, I’m here to tell you that, in this dish, it really doesn’t make a difference.

Once your meat and veggies are happily bubbling away in their sauce, it’s time to top the pie with some potatoes.  Most people use mashed potatoes for shepherd’s pie, but I’ve seen it done before with sliced potatoes and even hash browns.  I may try it that way one day, but for now, I’m going with mashed.

I like to use my biggest cast iron skillet to make shepherd’s pie.  Doing all of the sautéing, simmering and baking  in one pan, makes things that much easier.  If you love washing extra dishes, you can certainly use a separate casserole dish to bake your pie.  Far be it from me to rain on anyone’s parade.   One thing I do recommend, though, is setting your pie on a baking sheet in the oven.  That sucker bubbles like crazy and tends to drip all over.

AHHH! Now, doesn’t just looking at this shepherd’s pie make you feel all warm and cozy?

 

Enjoy!


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