Recipes

Traditional Shepherd’s Pie

It’s getting cooler, which makes me think about Fall recipes again. This comforting, home-style Shepherd’s Pie has lean ground beef, chopped onions, creamed corn, sweet corn and mashed potatoes — that’s it. Simple, stick-to-your-ribs fare. I made it last weekend before a visit to Mark’s 90-year-old grandfather, who gets Meals on Wheels because he is legally blind. How depressing! Whenever I can, I bring him a home-cooked meal to enjoy.

Shepherd's_Pie copy

This is an easy one to pull together. The only time-consuming part is the 45 minutes it spends in the oven; if you make it on the weekend or in the evening before bed, it’s ready to go for the next few days. This is one of Mark’s favorites, and has been ever since my Mom taught me how to make it (in miniature ceramic baking dishes) for lunches when I had my first job out of college. By the way, you could do the same thing — just buy those handy single-serving bakers or ramekins and adjust the cooking time as needed.

Start off by coarsely chopping a small onion and cooking it over medium heat in a medium sized skillet until translucent, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. (Is it me, or do my fingers look REALLY pudgy here? Sigh.)

Then you are going to add the pound of lean ground beef into the pan, breaking it up with your spoon and stirring until the meat is just browning. Don’t overcook it, because it will continue to cook through in the oven.

Remove the cooked beef and onions from the heat and get out a large glass baking dish. I like my Anchor Hocking bake n’ take set because it comes with a matching cover and carrying case, which is great for transporting and storing in the fridge (it’s especially handy around the holidays).

Pour the ground beef into the baking dish, spreading out in a very thin, even layer. Don’t be concerned if it just barely covers the bottom of the dish. It’s supposed to be that way.

This is a redundant picture. A certain fuzzy assistant photo-bombed me.

Add the creamed corn next……..

…………followed by the sweet corn.

Now you’re ready to add the mashed potatoes. Full disclosure: I used to make the mashed potatoes from scratch, but one time I cheated, and Mark said “you HAVE to make it this way from now on.” Well…I’m not going to complain about a shortcut tasting better. So from then on, boxed potatoes it is.

Either way you do the potatoes, make sure you add a lot of butter and milk so it stays moist. I find it’s easier to spread the potatoes onto the Shepherd’s Pie in big blobs that you push outward with two forks to cover the whole surface. If you try to drop the whole mess of potatoes into the center and spread outward, you’ll just end up dragging up loose corn and making a mess.

Then, take your hand and just pat it down all over so the potatoes are roughly even in the pan. Anything sticking up will just burn, and you don’t want that.

Cover with foil, pop it in the oven at 350 for about half an hour, then check on it. If it hasn’t browned yet, continue cooking uncovered for about 10 more minutes, checking back frequently so that you take it out when it’s just starting to brown at the edges and bubble up. You don’t, obviously, want to burn it.

If it needs more than 10 minutes, so be it! Just keep an eye on it, and the browning potatoes will tell you when it’s done for your oven. Once it’s not boiling hot anymore, it’s ready to eat! I like it warm, not steaming hot, and it makes unbelievable leftovers. Enjoy.

Shepherd’s Pie

INGREDIENTS

  • About 1 lb. of ground beef (I used 85% lean)
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 can of sweet corn
  • 1 can of creamed corn
  • 1 box of instant mashed potatoes, prepared
  • Milk and butter for the mashed potatoes
  • Olive Oil for sauteeing the beef
  • Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Chop the onion and saute in a skillet over medium heat until translucent. Season with salt and pepper and add the ground beef. Cook, stirring, until just browned.

Pour the onion-beef mixture into a large glass baking dish. Pour in one can of creamed corn and spread into a thin layer on top of the beef.

Add the can of sweet corn and distribute evenly over the creamed corn layer.

Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare your instant mashed potatoes if not done already.

Top the corn with the potatoes, spreading out in an even layer. Cover with foil and place in the oven.

Cook for half an hour, remove foil and cook 10 minutes uncovered or until the top is browned and bubbling. Enjoy!

Tip: If you are going to reheat this, I would suggest adding a dollop of butter to the top before you put the cooked pie in the fridge. That way, when you pop it in the microwave, the butter will melt and re-energize the potatoes a bit. I highly suggest setting some aside for leftovers if you can — it’s honestly even better the second day.

CSA 2011 · Recipes

Meat-free Shepherd’s Pie

This one truly was a triumph. I actually – wait for it – fooled the husband. I let him eat three helpings before I told him it wasn’t beef.

Looks like beef, doesn't it? It's portobello mushroom.

The weather just turned crisp and cool in New England, so I got a hankering for Shepherd’s Pie. My mom makes the absolute best — simple sauteed beef & onions, creamed corn, mashed potatoes — and I wanted to re-create the taste and texture of it while designing a meat-free, yet still hearty and delicious, version. Here’s what I did.

Ingredients

  • 4 frozen portobello burger patties, thawed in refrigerator (or, about 2 cups of chopped and de-gilled fresh portobello mushroom caps. 2 cups chopped = roughly 2 whole mushroom caps.)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 2-3 carrots,cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 4 or 5 Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cubed for boiling
  • Butter/ butter substitute (for skillet and potatoes)
  • Cream/milk/soy cream/dairy sub of your choice (for mashing potatoes)
  • Worcestershire sauce, to give the mushrooms a meaty flavor. (*Worcestershire sauce traditionally contains anchovies, but you can find varieties that do not. You could also substitute Henderson’s Relish, which has a similar flavor but is 100% vegan*).
Beautiful organic carrots from Sparrow Arc Farm in Maine.

Directions

Set the potatoes on to boil while you prepare the rest of the meal.

Heat butter in a good-sized skillet over medium and add the onions, sauteeing until translucent. Add the portobello mushrooms and brown them, adding a dab of butter as necessary to keep the pan from sticking.

Add the carrots, cover and reduce to low-medium, stirring occasionally until carrots are tender.

Add worcestershire sauce (eyeball it) and other seasonings to your personal preference. (You know me — my favorite is the Trader Joe’s 21-seasoning salute).

Take off heat and spread the “meat” mixture into a 9×13 glass baking dish or two 8×8 square glass baking dishes (I did this because I was making one for us and one for my husband’s grandfather, who is almost 90. Hi Granddad!)

Top the “meat” mixture with the canned corn, spreading out evenly over the dish, and then with the creamed corn, doing the same.

Finally, drain and mash your potatoes, adding butter and cream (substituting non-dairy as per your diet) and salt if you prefer. I use a hand-masher to keep things quick and simple.

Spread the potatoes evenly atop the corn.

Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 35 minutes, uncovering for the last 5 minutes to brown the potatoes. I actually set mine under the broiler for the final 5 minutes of cooking time because I like a crisp shell of potato to dig into.

Cool briefly and serve.

You can also assemble and cook the next day / at someone else’s house like I did. In my opinion, Shepherd’s Pie, traditional and otherwise, is a dish that improves when it is reheated as leftovers.