Monday, February 18, 2013

I'm No Shepherd, But I Love His Pie!

Shepherd's Pie

When it's cold outside, I crave hearty, filling foods, like chicken & dumplings or chili or this, Shepherd's Pie. Yes, it's a little old fashioned, but don't you just want that sometimes?  I know I do.  With its great beefy flavor and creamy mashed potatoes and, of course, cheese, this meal hits the spot every time.

So what the heck is Shepherd's Pie and why do shepherds eat it?  Well, I'll tell you.  It's traditionally made with lamb, usually a way to use up leftover meat.  And the shepherds are tending lamb, not cattle.  Although I used beef for this one.  I didn't have any leftover lamb.  Don't tell the shepherds.  I guess it was a meal the shepherd's wife made for him after a long day of tending sheep and she didn't have time to make something new for dinner.  She made a beef and vegetable and gravy layer topped with a mashed potato layer.  However she came upon it, she was right.

I made this last night for my family, and it was the first time my son, Trevor, actually tried it.  He's a little skeptical when trying new things, but he's getting better about trying them.  He said, "Mom, I really love Shepherd's Pie."  He ate a lot too.  12-year-old growing boys eat a lot.  I served it with the Copycat Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits, which he ate three of.  (That recipe is out there on the internet everywhere.  Try it.  It's good.)

My daughter, Taylor, on the other hand, prefers a more refined version of Shepherd's Pie with chunks of steak meat and parsnips and turnips. She's quite the gourmet.  (I didn't have any parsnips or turnips either.)  She went to her 8th grade banquet where they served spaghetti.  When she came home, she mentioned how all the kids liked the spaghetti except her because it wasn't like the spaghetti I make with homemade sauce. I've ruined my children.  They can't eat food most teenagers eat because I consider myself a pretend gourmet cook, and they're used to flavorful meals instead of bland canned and jarred food.

So, if comfort food for shepherds is what you're craving, get out your potato masher, put on your apron, and let's get cooking!

1 lb ground beef
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
One 8-ounce package of mushrooms, sliced
Olive oil
2 C beef stock
1/4 C flour
4 potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 stick butter
1 T garlic powder
1 C shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 to 1/2 C heavy cream
Salt & pepper

Boil the potatoes until tender.  Drain.

For the beef layer, cook the onion and carrot in the olive oil until tender. Add in the mushrooms and cook until browned.  Season with salt and pepper. Add in the ground beef and garlic and cook until the beef is done. Sprinkle the flour over the beef.  Pour in the beef stock and stir quickly to dissolve the flour.  Cook until bubbly and thickened.  Remove from heat. Adjust for salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Put the butter in a stand mixer.  Put the potatoes in the mixer and start mixing with a whisk attachment (you can do this with a potato masher if you don't have a mixer).  Add in the garlic powder and season with salt and pepper (Remember, I don't give measurements on salt because I tend to be heavy-handed with salt).  Add in enough cream to your desired consistency for mashed potatoes.

Spread the meat filling into an 8x8 casserole pan.  Spread the mashed potatoes over the top, getting as close to the edge as you can.  Sprinkle the cheese over the top.  Bake about 20 minutes or until cheese is browned.

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