April 16, 2010

Shepherd's pie

During the recent cold snap, I found myself craving something warm and comforting for dinner. I know this Shepherd's is not an authentic version, but it's really good none-the-less. Plus, we recently acquired a whole bunch of parsnips and I like to add them to this dish. It takes a bit of time to make, but it's worth it -- especially on a chilly day. This recipe will serve four to six people, depending on hunger level and if you have any sides with it like a nice green salad.

Shepherd's pie
1 lb lean ground beef
4-5 large russet potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 rib celery, finely chopped.
2-3 medium carrots, chopped
2-3 parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons paprika, plus more for garnish
3/4 cup frozen peas
about 1/3-1/2 cup milk or cream
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (plus more for cooking)
salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Fill a large pot with water and the potatoes and cook over medium heat, covered, until it boils and the potatoes become soft (begin the next steps below while you are waiting for the potatoes to cook). Then drain the potatoes, add milk/cream, salt, pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. Mash with a potato masher until your preferred texture. Set aside covered.

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. In a large pan, heat some extra virgin olive oil. When it's warm, add the onions and celery and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Then add the carrots, parsnips, and garlic along with some salt and pepper and continue cooking, stirring occasionally. Once the onions are translucent and the vegetables are beginning to soften, add the ground beef. Break it apart and cook until it is no longer pink, stirring occasionally. Once it is browned, add the flour and stir. Let the flour cook for about 2-3 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce and beef stock and stir (making sure to de-glaze all the good bits off the bottom of the pan). Let the mixture come to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add the thyme and paprika. Then add salt and pepper to taste. Continue simmering until the vegetables are soft and the gravy has thickened. If you want more gravy, add a bit more stock. Add the peas and stir.

Pour the meat/vegetable/gravy mixture into a large baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, spreading them over the top until they evenly coat the bottom layer. Sprinkle the top with some paprika. Place in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to brown and the gravy is bubbling. Remove from the oven and let sit for a couple of minutes before digging in.

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