Monday, October 7, 2013

Day 6 - Shepherd's Pie

When I was a little girl my mother used to make her version of Shepherd's pie for us on a pretty regular basis.  She probably made it because ground beef was affordable enough to fill five children, three of which were boys with healthy appetites.  Mom called it Mince and Tatties which was Scottish speak for Ground Beef and Potatoes.  She didn't bother with putting it in a dish and baking the potatoes on top, she just scooped a plate of the mashed potatoes in the bow and poured the meat gravy over it.   I have to say I absolutely hated it growing up.  It might be because we ate it so often but I just didn't like it. 

Fast forward thirty years later and you will see that I now make it on a fairly regular basis.  We don't make it as much in the summer but we definitely have it at least a couple of times a month during Fall and Winter for football games.

The recipe I use is fairly similar to just about any you'll find on the internet.  They are all very similar to one another.  One ingredient I recommend that is key is Bisto.  This is a thickening agent for making wonderful gravy.  I always add it to the meat portion of my shepherds pie and it always comes out great. 

Recently we started adding corn to the meat.  My mother would not approve but my son loves it with corn and green beans so I add them.  No one complains when I change it up, even when I sneak in a little curry or red pepper flakes.   Sometimes I sprinkle cheese on top of the mashed potatoes.  A true shepherd's pie does not have cheese, but I think that's more popular her in the states. 

I love to make a big pot for a crowd. It's hearty and filling and serves a crowd for not a lot of money.   A good base of shepherd's pie can be changed up in so many ways.  I've even added some Mexican spices to change it up a bit. 

My basic recipe is as follows:
2 lbs ground beef
32 oz beef broth
1/2 of a small can tomato paste
1 packet French Onion Soup mix
1 bag frozen peas and carrots
1 bag frozen corn
1 bag frozen green beans (NOT the French style)
salt and pepper
Bisto or corn starch for thickening if necessary
Brown the ground beef in a large pot.  Once browned pour in the beef broth to cover the meat you may not need the whole 32 oz. Stir in the tomato paste, make sure you only use about 1/2 of the small can.  (if you use too much you'll have spaghetti sauce). Add the packet of soup mix.  Stir the ingredients and let them simmer for about 15 minutes.  Add the veggies.  Let them simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes.  Add more broth if necessary.   Then add the thickener, bisto or corn starch.  Once it has thickened, pour into a deep casserole dish and cover with mashed potatoes.  Put in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes have browned a little.    Remove from the oven and serve. 

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