Thursday, January 7, 2010

Shepherd’s Pie

New York’s weather has been beastly the past few days - the temperature has been hovering in the mid-twenties (° F), and with the wind whipping up the avenues, it feels about ten degrees colder! Tomorrow’s forecast is calling for snow all day, and what better way to warm up at the end of a long day than with a piping hot one-pot meal?

Shepherd’s pie is a perfect winter meal, full of hearty meat and crisp vegetables, all topped with creamy, fluffy mashed potatoes. Sautéed mushrooms add extra body and depth of flavor, and an even mix of ground lamb and ground beef tones down the gaminess of the dish. A mashed potato topping is crucial to a true shepherd’s pie, so make a big batch of this using your favorite recipe!

Little Scarlet likes to make mashed potatoes by boiling peeled, cubed potatoes in lightly salted water until they can be easily pierced with a fork. Drain water from the pot, reserving a few tablespoons to add later, and mash the potatoes in the pot with a fork as best you can (it’s okay to leave behind a few lumps). Slowly add a combination of butter, sour cream, milk, and reserved potato water, sprinkling with kosher salt and tasting as you go, adjusting amounts of ingredients accordingly.
For best results, prepare the mashed potatoes while the meat is browning - it’s alright if they cool, as they will warm up later in the oven. Serves 6-8.

This recipe is perfect for lifting you out of the winter doldrums - enjoy!

2 tablespoons olive oil
½ pound baby Portobello mushrooms, chopped
½ large onion, chopped
½ pound ground lamb
½ pound ground beef
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
14 oz brown gravy
1 16-oz bag mixed frozen vegetables (peas, carrots, corn, green beans)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
½-1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
½-1 teaspoons kosher salt
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté mushrooms and onion about 8 minutes, or until mushrooms are brown; transfer mushrooms to a bowl. Add ground lamb, ground beef, and garlic to skillet, sautéing about 5 minutes, or until meat is no longer pink. Return mushroom and onions to skillet, and mix in gravy. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.* Add frozen vegetables, and simmer until just tender, about 5 minutes longer.
  2. Mix in 2 tablespoons parsley, and add ½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Season with freshly ground black pepper - then taste. Add additional Worcestershire sauce and salt, if desired.
  3. Transfer meat mixture to 2-qt glass baking dish. Spoon mashed potatoes on top, covering meat completely. For a pretty flourish, make a cross-hatch pattern in the mashed potatoes using the tines of a fork. Bake pie about 15 minutes, until heated thoroughly (insert a knife into the center of the pie, and see if the tip is warm to the touch). Garnish with remaining tablespoon of parsley and serve.

    *1 tsp cornstarch can be used to help thicken the mixture if its viscosity still seems too low.


  1. @Anonymous: oh no, there's definitely an onion, i remember tearing up all over the place while chopping it! take another look, it goes in with the mushrooms in step 1 :)

  2. Looks like a perfect winter meal. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. I love a good shepherd's pie! Sans the meat, but still, it looks delish!

  4. yep, could use this down here too - cold than ever...sounds like a wonderful dish...

  5. I've never made shepherd's pie before. This looks really good.

  6. I always made it with lamb and beef but for the veggies I only used corn (ok starch? veggie? conundrum!)

  7. What a nice change to our regular Shepard's Pie. Thank you for sharing it.

  8. Such an old favorite of my mothers. If I miss eating meat, this dish would be the one that does it. I used to love shepherds pie. And when I can't think of anything else to serve my meat eating hubby, Shepherds Pie it is. so easy. So good. thanks for the reminder.

  9. This is tried and true comfort food for a cold winter's day. I love shepherd's pie.