Unauthentic Shepherd’s Pie

  • 1 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 1.5 lbs ground meat (lamb is better, but lean beef is acceptable)
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 Tbs tomato paste
  • 2 c. chicken broth
  • 1/5 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary (ground up a bit so it’s not big spiky leaf chunks)
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 regular potatoes
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 c. frozen peas and carrots (or more if desired)

Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler.

Begin cooking potatoes.  Pretty much anything works; microwave them like baked potatoes, boil them, whatever you prefer.

Cook ground meat in vegetable oil.  Add onion, breaking up meat with wooden spoon, until meat is no longer pink.

Stir in garlic until thoroughly combined (I love garlic, but not when I get ALL the garlic in one bite).

Stir in flour.  If meat seems excessively greasy, soak up some of it with a paper towel first, but remember that the flour will thicken it.

Stir in tomato paste until thoroughly combined.

Gradually whisk in broth, thyme, rosemary, and Worcestershire, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any remaining garlic, tomato, or flour lumps.  Simmer until thickened, about 3-5 minutes.

Stir in peas and carrots.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add more vegetables if desired.

Pour meat mixture into rectangular casserole dish.  So long as it all fits, the size of the dish isn’t actually terribly important.  If you have an oven-safe skillet to cook in, you can do the whole recipe in that one dish, but I don’t, so…there.

Scrape delicious mushy insides out of potatoes into mixing bowl, and combine thoroughly.  Measure out 4 cups of mixed sweet and regular potatoes.  (Remaining potatoes are now a side dish for some other main; if there’s not much left because you had small potatoes, just use it all on this recipe.  This is not an exact science.)

Using a regular spoon, dollop the potatoes onto the top of the meat mixture. Spread them around as evenly as you can; you are aiming to cover the entire surface with mashed potatoes, sealing the potatoes to the edges.  However, I’ve made this recipe multiple times and I’ve never actually successfully done that and made it look pretty.  There’s got to be a magical trick to it, but I usually murmur “This is not an exact science” over and over until I give up and throw it in the oven.  It’s still tasty, but if you’re serving other people, you might want to put more effort into this step.

Place dish in oven and broil until top is golden brown, about 5-7 minutes.  LET COOL and serve (oh god I only made that mistake once; I was just so hungry and it smelled so good I got carried away by my own enthusiasm, but in the end that just meant I couldn’t really taste how good it was until the next day when my tongue wasn’t burnt-numb anymore).

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