Shepherd's Pie

The first bit of fall showed it’s pretty little head last weekend here in Florida, what we refer to as fall is more of like late spring for the rest of you, but temps in the low 80’s with low humidity is heaven in these parts! Finally the A/C can get a much earned break from those 95+ degree afternoons and breezy afternoons on the patio become common place. This time of year we pack up the wakeboards and break out the mountain bikes and evening meals begin to transform from chicken on the grill with fresh tomato salad to slow cooked braised meats, chilis and stews and pies and cobblers.

Last Saturday the boy and I took advantage of this beautiful weather by hitting our local market, we ended up with some homemade bread, a few pounds of grass fed beef and before they quickly disappear, summers last few ears of sweet corn. And of course with all those fresh ingredients and some potatoes and carrots just hanging out in the veggie bowl, Shepherd’s Pie was calling my name!

This recipe can be tweaked a number of ways to suit your needs. Next time around I’m thinking of throwing some horseradish in with the taters for a little more kick and of course you can switch up the veggies to your preference. All corn and no peas, peas and carrots only…you get the point. Either way give this one a try when your temperatures begin to drop and comfort food starts calling.

Shepherd’s Pie
Serves 6-8

4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons butter
2 – 3 tablespoons fresh chopped chives
¼ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup finely chopped carrots
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound beef (organic or 80/20 ground chuck)
1 tablespoon ketchup or tomato paste
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
1 packet brown gravy mix
1 cup water
¼ cup corn
¼ cup peas
¼ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Add potatoes to a large pot and add water until just covered, salt generously and bring to a boil. Cook until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and mash. Mix in 2 tablespoons butter, chives and ¼ cup of cheese. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and carrots and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Throw in the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the beef and cook until brown. If using a lean meat you probably won’t need to drain off the fat, however I always transfer the mixture to a fine mesh strainer to remove any excess fat. The end result ends up being much leaner and easier to digest. Return the drained beef to the skillet and add the Worcestershire sauce and ketchup and combine well. Add the brown gravy packet and 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Toss in the peas and corn and reduce the heat to low. Allow to simmer and thicken about 5 – 10 minutes.

Transfer the beef mixture to a 2 quart casserole dish. Or if you’re like me, two 9x9 baking dishes, one for dinner now and one to freeze for later. Top the beef mixture with a layer of potatoes, fresh cracked pepper, a couple dots of butter and the last ¼ cup of cheddar.

Bake in a preheated 375º oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Remove from heat and let sit 10 minutes before serving.


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