Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Shepherd's Pie (Made Easy)

Shepherd's Pie is one of my favorite dishes to make when I've got ground beef that I don't know what to do with (it's also one of my oldest son's favorite dinners). It's super easy to throw together and you probably have everything you need already on hand. My Irish ancestors are probably rolling over in their graves, but here's my recipe for Shepherd's Pie Made Easy...

Here's what you need:

1 1/2 - 2 lbs. of lean ground beef
1 onion (white or yellow), diced
1 can of beef broth (which is about a cup and a half)
2-3 tablespoons of minced garlic (from a jar of course, who has time to mince garlic themselves?)
1 bag of frozen peas, carrots & corn (about 2 cups)
1 box instant mashed potatoes (this is the main reason my ancestors are ashamed)
Salt & pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg

Here's what you do:

1. Cook ground beef (seasoned with salt & pepper) in a skillet over medium-high heat. Just before the meat is fully browned, add onions and garlic and continue to cook until the meat is done. If you're not using lean ground beef or if you are and there's still excess grease, drain the meat, onion and garlic mixture before continuing. Return ground beef, onions and garlic to skillet and add beef broth. 1 can of beef broth is about 1 1/2 cups. If you're using 2 lbs. of meat, you'll want to use the whole can. If you're using less meat, you'll want to use less broth. Some of it will cook off, but not much. You want enough broth so that the meat is wet, but not drowning. Something like this:

2. After you've added the beef broth, add frozen vegetables. Bring to a boil. It looks a little prettier after you add the veggies. :)

You can use whatever frozen vegetables you have. Traditionally it's peas, corn and carrots. I use a mixed vegetable medley that includes those as well as green beans. Transfer meat mixture from skillet to a 13 x 9 baking dish. I use a slotted spoon so as to not have too much broth. Spread evenly in pan. You can add a little extra juice (broth) if you feel like it needs it.

3. Next prepare the instant mashed potatoes as per the directions on the box. I use these:

You'll need both pouches. These loaded mashed potatoes give your Shepherd's Pie a little extra flavor kick. When the potatoes are finished, let them sit for 5 minutes to help them stiffen up a bit. Then add an egg, beaten, to them and stir well. The egg will help stiffen the potatoes while it bakes.

Spread the mashed potatoes in the baking dish on top of the ground beef. I use a fork to make a design of sorts so it looks nicer than just mashed potatoes plopped on top of meat. Break 2 tablespoons of butter into tiny chunks and sprinkle sporadically on top.

4. Place baking dish in the oven, preheated to 400 degrees, for 30-35 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

The finished product:

No need for a side, your meat, starch and vegetables are all in one.

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