Saturday, February 19, 2011

shepherd's pie

Shepherd's Pie

My beloved Tante Gerda, who was a second mother to me and my siblings and is probably singlehandedly responsible for most of my academic achievements, used to make Shepherd's Pie for us some of the nights we had dinner at her house before attending German School. I hadn't had it since high school, but I was thrilled when mine turned out very nearly as awesome as hers.

I am pretty sure I originally made this the same week as the butternut squash pasta, but I totally forgot to take finished photographs. I fed it to a couple of guys from Ohio, it was good. Decided to make it for myself tonight, as the temperature has dropped thirty degrees since yesterday and wintry-type food seems in order. Original recipe is from Epicurious, and I didn't do much besides add some more meat and some spices. I made a half-batch, since I'm the only one eating it (for the next three meals), but this recipe serves about six people.

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 lbs ground lamb (you can substitute half with another meat)
1 cup broth (I prefer vegetable)
1 heaping tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 cup frozen peas
2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
6 tbsp butter
1/2 cup milk
salt to taste
grated cheese (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Put the potatoes in a pot of boiling water and set a timer for 20 minutes. Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet, and sauté the meat, onion, and carrot until the meat browns (about 10 minutes). 

Drain the fat (if there's a significant amount) and add the tomato paste, broth, and herbs. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the juices thicken. Add the peas (they can still be frozen). Pour into a large baking dish (mine is a 14"x8" Pyrex pan). 

Mash the potatoes, which should be done by now, with the milk and butter. Add as much salt as you like. Spread the potatoes over the meat mixture. This is best accomplished by gently dropping most of it down the middle of the pan and using a spatula to smooth it toward the edges. Draw some designs in the top with a fork. 

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden brown. Serve with grated cheese on top.

My only photo from the first round of this--lamb mixture in the pan. I forgot the peas that time, though.

My potatoes didn't brown very much this time (I mis-measured when I was reducing the recipe and made them too thin), but lots of juice crept up to the top.


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