Tuesday, March 1, 2011

How I Make Shepherd's Pie

If you want to be a thrifty cook, you should know how to make shepherd's pie and its relatives.  They are basically cooked vegetables, usually sauced a little bit, with a top sealing layer of mashed potatoes or biscuits or pie crust.  Baked until the top layer is cooked or everything is heated through.  A creative dish that depends on some scrappy leftovers.  I've never actually studied shepherd's pie recipes, so you can tell me what's traditional or not about my version.

My procedure for making shepherd's pie from Sunday roast beef and vegetable leftovers:

In cast iron Dutch oven, saute an onion  and a lot of mushrooms.  Then chop up and add the leftover vegetables (usually for me it's onions, carrots, mushrooms) except potatoes.  You can add some herbs here too - I like a bit of marjoram.  Add the leftover gravy - I don't like mine too runny, so I aim for maybe 1 cup gravy to several cups vegetables.   I usually add minced garlic here too, and salt and pepper depending on how salty the gravy is; maybe a splash of Worcestershire sauce.  Sometimes I add frozen green beans or other root vegetables.

Meanwhile, mash up the potatoes; they need to be warm to mash well.  Usually I reheat them in the microwave with some milk splashed on them, and then I mash them with a potato masher.  You can add cheese or butter.

Now, spread the mashed potatoes over vegetables and gravy, sealing the edges and smoothing it out.  Sprinkle with paprika - pretty! Bake uncovered in a moderate oven for 20-45 minutes - it's flexible because you're really just heating everything up - you should see some gravy bubbling at the edges to show that everything is hot through.  You could take advantage of that oven heat to bake a dessert that needs a precise time and temperature.

Roughly, the minimum amounts that I aim for in my Dutch oven:  4 cups of vegetables, 1 cup gravy, 2-4 cups mashed potatoes.

Serve shepherd's pie with pickles or coleslaw (shown here is German slaw from the freezer).  You'll notice I did not put the leftover meat in the shepherd's pie - I think it's unecessary because of the meaty flavor and nutrition in the gravy.  We are fond of oven barbeque with leftover roast beef.

I'm interested in your version of shepherd's pie.  Tell me, please!


Janelle said...

I sometimes use sweet potatoes.

beth said...

I make this when I have leftover mashed potatoes. I mix chicken pieces, vegetables and a can of cream soup under the potatoes. This one's always a hit.

Christian @ Modobject at Home said...

Shepherd's pie seems to be top of mind for many right now. Ruth (Gracelaced) posted her recipe (see my sidebar for the link) for it recently and I made it last week. It was excellent. She uses ground beef, which is the type of meat I've always associated with shepherd's pie. Instead of adding oregano I added rosemary... delicious!! This is a wonderfully versatile dish, and one that I think is great to prepare when delivering a meal to a new mother or a family in crisis.

Jennifer Jo said...

I've never made shepherd's pie, but you make it sound right delicious AND easy. Thanks for a new possibility!

Tracy said...

Here's my recipe:


Nicole said...

Shepherd's pie is a family favorite around here. I love the gravy and vegetable combo. If I don't have any mashed potatoes left I use biscuit dough. Another recipe for shepherd's pie calls for ground beef (or lamb), corn, green peppers and a tomato paste base. Sometimes I sometimes do it that way with leftover spaghetti sauce. Any way is good on a cold night and a great way to use up those pesky leftovers!

Nicole said...

Sorry about that! Sometimes I sometimes forget to read what I write :)

Margo said...

I love all your ideas!

1. rosemary
2. white sauce instead of gravy
3. tomato sauce instead of gravy
4. sweet potatoes instead of white
5. ground lamb (which I have in my freezer)

gosh, maybe I don't need to depend on Sunday roast leftovers to make shepherd's pie!

Anonymous said...

Big shepherd's pie fans here, too. With a family that keeps growing and kids that do, too, I stopped having leftover roast quite a while ago. Now I buy two, cook them at the same time, cut them up into bite-sized pieces and serve them with gravy over potatoes, rice, or pasta, with veggies on the side. I get Sunday supper, lunch for my husband, and leftovers for when I go to Bible study on Tuesday nights.

Can't wait to try a pie with lamb. We have a large Basque population near us, can't believe I haven't thought of this before!


Heritage Farmgirl said...

I don't use gravy in mine, but a little bit of chicken or beef broth perhaps. Mine usually has a lot more vegetables then meat. Basically it is the fridge emptied of all cooked vegetables and some meat and yes heaps of mashed potatoes on top, maybe mashed with cheese.Chives on top.


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