Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s pie is a delicious one-dish meal that screams “comfort” on cooler fall evenings.Author of The Loving Kitchen I love, love, love shepherd’s pie! It reminds me of some of the ground-beef casseroles my mom made when I was a kid. You know the ones: ground beef, noodles, some type of veggie, cream of something soup and cheese. She could take one pound of ground beef and turn it into dinner for a family of five with leftovers. In addition to warm, fuzzy memories of my youth, shepherd’s pie is topped with creamy cheesy mashed potatoes. Oh yeah!

This recipe freezes really well, so I like to make a double batch and freeze the second one before baking. All I have to do is thaw and freeze during a crazier than normal week.

Note: You can change up any of the veggies. Green beans and corn are great additions.

Shepherd’s Pie (Serves 8)

Ingredients: 2 ½ pounds ground beef, pork, chicken or turkey 1 onion, chopped 3 stalks celery with leaves, chopped 3 carrots, chopped 1 cup mushrooms, roughly chopped ½ cup chopped fresh parsley 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 teaspoon dried thyme 1 cup beef or chicken stock ½ cup red wine (or additional ½ cup stock) 1 can cream of mushroom soup 3 tablespoons tomato paste 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce ¼ cup butter, melted ¼ cup flour 6 cups baby spinach leaves 1 cup frozen peas Salt and pepper, to taste Cheesy Mashed Potatoes (recipe follows)

Instructions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a large casserole dish, a 13 x 9-inch baking dish, or a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with non-stick cooking spray, and set aside.

Place a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the ground meat and brown. Add onion, celery, carrots, mushrooms, parsley, garlic and thyme. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together stock, wine, cream of mushroom soup, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce. Pour the mixture over meat and vegetables and stir to combine. Reduce heat, cover pot and simmer until carrots are tender (approximately 15 minutes) stirring frequently to keep from sticking.

While mixture is simmering, combine melted butter and flour to form a paste. When the carrots are tender, stir a spoonful of the hot mixture into the butter/flour paste to loosen. Then, stir all back into the pot. Simmer for 3-5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in the spinach and peas, then taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed. Transfer cooked meat mixture into prepared pan.

Gently spoon cheesy mashed potatoes over the meat. Use the tines of a fork to make a crisscross pattern over the top of the potatoes. Lightly sprinkle with paprika. Place the dish on a large baking sheet as it’s very likely the shepherd’s pie will spill over. Bake for 45 minutes or until the potatoes are golden. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients: 5–6 cups mashed potatoes (purchased or prepared in advance) ¼ cup butter, room temperature ½ cup sour cream 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions: Heat potatoes, then add butter and sour cream. Stir to combine. Add cheese, stirring to melt. Once melted, taste the potatoes and add salt and pepper to taste. (Note: If your potatoes are too thick, add a little milk or cream until they are soft enough to spread. But be careful not to make them too soft or they won’t hold their shape on the shepherd’s pie.)

LeAnn Rice is a food blogger and cookbook author. You can stalk her at www.LeAnnCooks.com where you can find her social media links as well as a link to purchase her book, The Loving Kitchen.