Thursday, March 13, 2008

Easy as Shepherd’s Pie

On occasion, I enjoy a good hunk of chicken or lamb made right. And potatoes? Well, they’re a favorite too. So when there’s a recipe that combines both meat and potatoes, I am a happy girl. I googled shepherd’s pie months ago and found many variations of the recipe. I tweaked those recipes to fit my own taste.

A little background on this English favorite; shepherd’s pie is traditionally made with minced lamb or goat meat, hence the name shepherd’s pie. Since I absolutely adore lamb and goat meat, you would think I’d make shepherd’s pie when I get my hands on the ground meat, right? Wrong. That isn’t the case at all; I actually have never made shepherd’s pie with ground lamb or goat. Coincidentally, I never remember to make it when I have those meats in the house. I’ve always made it with an old favorite, ground turkey.

For the meat filling
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, diced
1 1/2 lbs ground Turkey
2 tsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp Thyme
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup frozen peas
Salt & Pepper to taste

Mashed potatoes
(Note: Leftover mashed potatoes can be used for this recipe. It is actually recommended)
2 lbs (baking) potatoes, large cubes
1 cup milk- heavy cream can be replaced and is really good but the fat content isn’t for my waist. unfortunately.
3 tbsp butter
Salt & Pepper to taste

For potatoes, bring a pot of water and potatoes to boil.

Preheat oven to 375F degrees.

Meanwhile, heat vegetable oil in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Generally garlic is not a component for this dish but my love for garlic is illimitable and thus my secret ingredient. Turn heat down to medium, add carrots and ground meat, break up the meat evenly with a wooden spoon and cook until meat is browned. While cooking, you’ll notice the liquid fat separating from the meat mixture; I like the flavor it adds to my pie so I leave it in however if you so wish, you can drain the fat.

When water and potatoes come to boil, add salt, turn heat down to simmer and cook for 10 minutes. While the potatoes are cooking, bring a saucepan with milk and butter up to a rolling simmer. If you overheat the milk; it will curdle and scald. Bad bad. Potatoes are done when they can be scored with a knife. Drain in a colander and place the potatoes back in the pot, add the warm milk mixture, salt and pepper and mash.

After the meat has browned, add tomato paste, thyme and Worcestershire sauce and cook for another 5-8 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Stir frozen peas into the mixture and remove the pan from heat. Peas are delicate and excess heat can result in a green mush. To prevent a green much, remove the pan from heat after adding peas and let the mixture cool.

Spread the cooled meat mixture in a casserole dish and top it with mashed potatoes. Bake for 15- 20 minutes. If the potatoes aren’t browned, turn oven temperature to broil, and bake on top rack, 4-6 inches away from the heat, for 8 minutes or until the potatoes are golden brown.

After tweaking, testing and trying the recipe many times I declare my pie to be very tasty and probably the best in town, especially for those non-red-meat eaters! Go head, try it sometime…

Did you know it’s the year of the potato? Makes two of us, I didn’t either. And since it is THE year of the potato, I’ll have to make sure to consume it as much as possible to raise awareness. Don’t mind my weight, I’ll be fine. It’s the awareness that’s more important! Anyway, in spirit of celebrating the potato, Sia over at Monsoon Spice is hosting an “Ode to Potato” event. And for that, I am submitting my fabulous shepherd’s pie.


Veggie Option said...

My British husband claims that if it isn't made with lamb it is considered a "Cottage Pie" rather than a "Shepherd's Pie."

That said, I make a vegetarian version and we both refer to it as Shepherd's Pie, so go figure.

Btw, my husband is drooling over those photos you posted!

liberal foodie said...

I read the cottage pie name derivation on Wikipedia. Since I never cook with beef, that wouldn't make sense either. Maybe meat and potatoes in a pie? Glad to hear that your husband enjoyed the picture.

Betty Carlson said...

Shepherd's pie is a great use for leftover meat. It's called "Hâchis Parmentier" in French. Thanks for your comment on my blog!

Mallika said...

You're back!! I thought you had left the blogosphere forever... my husband keep reminding me about the difference between cottage and shepherds pies. Who cares - as long as it tastes gooooood.

liberal foodie said...

Betty, I agree. Any meat that can be used for a new dish is delectable. especially when the flavors have had time to marry.

Mallika- Yes I am back. Thank you for the warm re-welcome. Cottage pie couldn't work in my house since I don't eat beef; shepherd's pie if I ever remember to eat it with lamb!