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On tonight’s dinner table we have a lovely Shepherd’s Pie.  For those of us in the colder hemisphere this is a wonderful and hearty meal that warms you from the belly out.  Before I get any comments about the name, I’ve titled this one Shepherd’s Pie because that is what I was told the name of the dish was from the time that I was a little girl.  Another name that this goes by is Cottage Pie (for more history on the dish click here) and by any other name, it is still the same basic dish.  The idea was that because potatoes were cheap, the poor people of the world could combine their left over meats and a mashed potato crust/topping to make their food last longer.  Since then, this has become a staple of many households and my family specifically.

You can get as decadent or as simple with this as you’d like, but the basic components are ground or chopped meat and mashed potato.  Why didn’t I list of a bunch of vegetables?  Well, because they aren’t entirely necessary.  As a college student, I would make a mock shepherd’s pie with taco meat from the hot bar in the cafeteria and instant mashed potatoes- don’t judge, it was zesty!  A traditional version will have peas, carrots, and celery, but the best way to do this on a budget is with ground beef, homemade mashed potatoes, and a bag of frozen mixed vegetables.  C’est magnifique!

C'est Magnifique!

Ingredients:
1 lb Ground Beef (you could use Lamb, pork, turkey, chicken, whatever)
1 8oz bag of frozen mixed vegetables
4 cups of mashed potatoes
1T  Celery Salt
1T  Garlic Powder
½ tsp.  Black Pepper
½ tsp.  Salt
1/3 cup Malt Vinegar
1/3 cup Worcestershire Sauce
1T Horseradish (you can use the horseradish sauce if you want, but make sure you taste and adjust your seasoning!)

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large sauce pan, brown the ground beef until there is no more pink left.  Pour the mixed vegetables into the pan, it doesn’t matter if they are frozen or not.  Cook the meat and vegetables at a medium high heat for approximately 5 minutes.

Combine the spices and sauces with the meat and vegetables and allow the mixture to simmer in the pot for about 2 minutes.  This is the most important part- TASTE YOUR MEAT!!!  The amounts that I’ve listed are simply suggested amounts for your spices and this is a dish where I have never met any 2 people who season it the same way.  Go with what tastes good to you!

Trick- If you run out of Malt Vinegar, you should probably not do this dish for dinner.  That being said, cider vinegar is your best substitute and distilled white and red wine vinegar’s are acceptable as well.  Another fun substitute that I’ve found for malt vinegar is to use equal parts distilled white vinegar with Rye Whiskey.  I used Wild Turkey for this, but whatever rye liquor you have will do and don’t worry, the alcohol will cook out in the baking.

Once your meat and vegetables are done, pour them, juices and all, into a baking dish.  I typically use an 8 x 8 dish for 1 lb of meat, but you can spread the meat and thick of thin as you like it.  Cover the top with the mashed potatoes and bake in a 350 degree F over for 30-40 minutes, or until the mashed potato topping is slightly browned.  Since the meat is already cooked, you should bake this only as long as it takes to get the mashed potato to the temperature and texture that you like.  For some that is not long at all, for others, well- you know who you are and your roasts are always charred.

This recipe should serve at least 4, but if you are sticking with correct portion sizing, then you should get at least 6 servings from the one 8 x 8 pan.

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