After an exhausting day on the road, driving that beastly road crane, tossing bad drivers in their bad vehicles hither and yon, one needs a soft place to fall and a hot meal. Some dishes like Shepherd's Pie are all about the love. Who wouldn’t want a big warm plate of mashed potatoes with crispy edges over a stew of meat and vegetables in gravy?
I prefer making it with ground beef - it's readily available and I like the flavor of chuck, although the original recipe calls for ground lamb or a beef and lamb mixture. You might vary the ingredients using ground pork, chicken or turkey and adjust the spices to jazz up those blander ingredients. A variety of mushrooms and tofu are excellent substitute additions for the vegetarian.
I always make two pans - one for dinner now and one for the freezer. I took these pictures when I prepared this dish a couple of weeks ago and tonight I'll be thawing the second pan. (It's rainy and autumny and my Shepherds Pie will soothe the savage beastesses.) Serve with a green vegetable or a simple salad and toasted buttery garlicy bread and nomatter how cold and hard the day may have been, this will warm the cockles of your heart.
1. Boil potatoes* for mashed potatoes (I used 5 lbs for two pans) - I like to add a few peeled cloves of garlic. When potatoes are done, mash with 3 Tbs butter, some milk for moistening and salt and pepper and set aside.
* This time I had red potatoes on hand but I prefer a white or yellow potato or even a Russet. The reds were too fine and sweet; acceptable but not as good as the others.
4. Saute: diced carrots, onions, celery and mushrooms in 3 Tbs oil (I like olive).
5. When vegs are translucent, add 1-1/2 lbs chopped meat.
6. Brown vegetables and meat.
9. Add chopped herbs and spices, salt and pepper to taste.
10. Reduce heat to med/low and add one can (2 cups) of chicken or beef broth. I like chicken because it adds a meaty flavor without overwhelming the dish.
11. Grate or add a dash/pinch of nutmeg.
12. Let the liquid thicken (about 4 minutes).