Sunday, July 26, 2009

Shepherd's Pie

What would our family's cool-weather menu line-up be without Shepherd's Pie? Thank you, Tina! Over the years I've found that it turns out best if you use a combination of ground beef and lamb and make sure to use lots of meat, so you don't wind up with too much potato on top. I like to season the meat well so that it stands up to the potatoes.

2-3 lbs. ground meat, ideally beef and lamb
4-5 strips bacon, cooked and chopped into small pieces (optional)
2-3 lbs. potatoes, made into mashed potatoes using your usual approach
1 large onion, diced small
2 stalks celery, diced small
1 can beef broth
3 Tbsp. dry sherry or vermouth (optional)
1 c. frozen peas
2 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. ketchup
1 Tbsp. ground yellow mustard
1 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. marjoram (optional)
sprinkling of paprika

Preheat the oven to 350.

Cook the bacon in a large frying pan, then remove it and chop it into small pieces. Brown the meat in the remaining fat. (I like to cook it fir 15 minutes in the pressure cooker for extra tenderness).

Add the onions and celery and cook until they begin to soften.

Add the mustard powder, thyme, black pepper, marjoram, and flour, and stir so that they're well-distributed throughout the meat. Increase the heat and cook for 2-3 minutes, so that the flour begins to brown a little.

Add the broth, dry sherry, Worcestershire sauce, and ketchup, and simmer, scraping any crusty bits off the bottom of the pan, until the gravy thickens. If it doesn't thicken enough, add a spoonful of mashed potato. Stir the peas and chopped bacon into the meat and gravy.

Place pour the meat and gravy into a greased casserole. Top with mashed potatoes, texture the potatoes with a fork, and sprinkle with paprika.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the gravy is bubbling, the entire dish is piping hot, and the top is browned.

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