Shephard’s Pie (aka The Husband’s favorite dinner)
I don’t know what it is about this dinner that excites The Husband so much. It’s the simplest thing in the world to make. Since it’s also an Irish dish, I thought I’d include it as my final St. Patty’s Day blowout here. Honestly, I just love the man and wanted to make it for him.
When The Husband was set to return from his first tour in Iraq I asked him what he wanted for dinner his first night home. Knowing that he’d survived on nothing but MREs for the past 4 months due to the lack of dining facilities, I was expecting something like steak to grace the menu. Instead, he very quietly asked, “Babe? Can you make that pie thing? You know… the one with ground beef and mashed potatoes?” I replied, “Shephard’s pie? Really? That’s what you want?” “Yes, I think that’s my favorite dinner ever.” he sheepishly responded.
This is The Husband’s “Welcome Home Dinner” after each deployment. It’s great because you can make it ahead of time, throw it in the refrigerator and wait for the Air Force to call yet again and say “the flight has been delayed.” Simply bake it off when he finally does get home…
The Delta Whiskey Way
2 T olive oil
1 package ground beef (about 1 1/2 lb)
1 small onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic (if you love garlic like we do… scale back if you would like)
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes in juice
1 1/2 – 2 lbs potatoes
4 T butter
3 T milk
Salt & Pepper to Taste
1 (10 oz) package frozen peas
1 C shredded cheddar
Pastry for a single crust pie
Depending on what I have going on, I occasionally purchase a frozen pie crust (which, I admit makes a much prettier presentation but lacks in taste). Regardless of what you choose, line a pie plate with pastry for a single crust pie.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic to pan and cook just until tender, adding ground beef before the onions brown. Brown the ground beef, breaking up as you go. Stir in diced tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, peel the potatoes then cut into similar sized pieces about 1″ in size. Place in a large pot and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until tender. Drain the potatoes and return them to the hot pot. Add butter, season with salt and pepper then mash, adding milk as needed. This is not the time for milky, runny potatoes, they need to still be quite dense. Stir in about 1/2 c cheddar cheese.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Once the juice from the tomatoes has completely evaporated (about 20 minutes) transfer the beef mixture to the pie crust. Top with the frozen peas in a single layer. Spoon mashed potatoes over the peas (I do this with an ice cream scoop so I don’t move all of the peas around… I’m crazy like that.) Top mashed potatoes with the remaining cheese.
Bake for 45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes before serving. If you’re in a time pinch… par-bake the crust and defrost the peas. Simply line the crust with wax paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans… something to keep the crust from bubbling up. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes until just slightly golden. Continue on with layering the ingredients then bake off the pie until the cheese is melted.