As Easy As Pie

12 Feb

Today’s recipe isn’t your typical pie. Not by a longshot. Shepherd’s Pie is a meat pie topped with mashed potatoes. There are numerous variations but traditionally it’s made with ground meat cooked in a gravy or sauce with onions and other vegetables and “frosted” with a layer of mashed potatoes – then baked until brown and bubbly. Today’s recipe was found in Betty Crocker’s Cookbook (1969). I remember receiving it for a wedding shower gift!

When I crave this ultimate comfort food, I make sure to double, even triple the amount of mashed potatoes I prepare for a meal earlier in the week – so all I have to do is brown the meat and saute the veggies and assemble the pie. Yes, you can use instant potatoes (wouldn’t you know Betty Crocker would suggest that?) but once you start making and mashing your own, you’ll never buy a box of instant ones again! You can also use ready-made mashed potatoes.

Use this recipe as a guide and make it your own. I generally use a pound of lean (90%) ground beef and peas, carrots and corn are a must in my version. Leftover meat (chuck roast, roast beef), lamb and ground turkey also work. What I learned from this particular recipe was the addition of gravy. I always serve mashed potatoes with a homemade brown gravy and so once again I planned for leftovers. You can prepare and use a store-bought gravy mix or simply use beef stock and some flour to thicken the filling. Better the Bouillon Beef Base in the soup aisle of most grocery stores will ramp up the beefy taste. Tasting is crucial to ensure it’s beefy enough and seasoned properly. I use a cast iron skillet for browning the meat and cooking the veggies and pop the whole skillet in the oven.

Shepherds’ Pie

Instant mashed potatoes (or 2-3 cups leftover mashed potatoes)

2 tablespoons parley flakes

2 cups cubed or ground cooked lamb, beef or veal

¼ cup chopped onion

2 cups cooked vegetables* (peas, carrots or corn)

2 cups gravy***

Beef stock and/or beef bouillon

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare instant potatoes for 8 servings as described on package except – stir in parsley flakes; set aside. In an ungreased 3-quart casserole**. If using ground meat, brown until no longer pink; drain fat. Stir together remaining ingredients. (I generally toss in a single cubed carrot at this point, along with a half cup each of frozen corn and peas). Add gravy and/or beef stock. Mound potatoes on meat mixture, spreading to completely cover meat mixture. Bake uncovered 30 minutes or until potatoes brown slightly.

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