April 30, 2010

shepherd's pie

Shown below (1) the browned beef in a baking dish awaiting the mashed potato topping (2) evenly spreading the mashed potato on top (3) the shepherd's pie ready to be baked or broiled in the oven (4) ready to serve.
I just realized that I've been forgetting to post one of the dishes that regularly make it to our dinner table. Shepherd's pie is a popular comfort food and one of the easiest make ahead dishes we like to have for our meat and potato dinners. The ground beef mixture may be made up to two days ahead stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Some adaptations have carrots and other vegetables but we like it simple with just sliced fresh mushrooms. I read that in the UK, the correct term for this is cottage pie since shepherd's pie is actually made from lamb. Start by boiling or simmering the potatoes for mashing. Brown the beef and season with salt and pepper. At this point, a little flour to make a roux may be added to slightly thicken the beef mixture. Cook the flour for a few minutes. Then add the sliced mushrooms and simmer until done. Transfer this mixture to a baking dish. Make the mashed potatoes next. I prefer to use yellow or all purpose potatoes.
A ricer (shown above) may be used. It works great and makes a smooth mashed potato mixture. Evenly spread out the mashed potato on top of the beef mixture. Use a fork to create the ridges on top as shown above. Brush with melted butter or olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake or broil* until the top is golden brown and serve with a green salad or mixed vegetable side dish. We also found out that it's best served with a thin gravy or sauce. Make the sauce with the drippings in the same skillet or pan used in browning the beef.
*If made ahead and kept in the refrigerator, reheat the cooked beef mixture in the microwave before topping with the mashed potato and broiling.

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