In my family, Shepard’s Pie is one of those dishes that is a must. Perhaps its a nod to the Irish heritage. Perhaps it was something that my Bampa made when I was a child However, I have to admit, I never even attempted to make it once. That is until I caught an episode of Cooking For Real and Sunny Anderson was making Shepard’s Pie with Mushroom Onion Gravy. Oh my lord – I will NEVER make Shepard’s Pie any other way again!
I have to thank Sunny because not only was this the piece de resistance for Christmas Eve dinner (no Feast of Seven Fishes in this house – it would be Seven Potatoes – you know us Irish love potatoes *LOL*) but Sunny’s instructions here taught me the PROPER way to make mashed potatoes for Christmas dinner the next day.
I did however make a few substitutions, the main one being corn instead of zucchini but her recipe is so versatile that it allows for substitutions. She wasn’t kidding when she said the gravy takes it to new levels because, quite frankly, it does. Plus I was able to attempt some knowledge I learned from the movie Julie & Julia, specifically “Don’t crowd the mushrooms or they won’t brown“. So daggone good. Many thanks to Sunny for a killer recipe, one that will be in the tried & true file.
Recipe courtesy of Sunny Anderson
- 2 pounds russet potatoes, washed, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (85 percent lean)
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 cup low-sodium beef stock
- 1/2 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, julienned
- 2 zucchini, julienned (I substituted corn)
- 2 carrots, peeled and grated
- 1 teaspoon Hungarian hot paprika, plus more for garnish (I substituted Smoked Paprika)
- 4 ounces Havarti cheese, grated (I substituted Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese)
Mushroom Onion Gravy, recipe follows
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- In a medium saucepan, cover potatoes and crushed garlic with enough water to cover by 1-inch. Add some salt and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium-high and cook until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain potatoes, return to pot, and mash together with 3 tablespoons of the butter and the heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and set aside.
- In a large pan on medium-high heat, combine 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil. When butter has melted, add beef, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper and salt and pepper, to taste, and cook until meat is brown. Stir in tomato paste and saute for a few minutes. Add stock and bring to a simmer. Season and remove mixture to a bowl. In the same pan, add remaining butter and oil and saute onions until almost tender, then add red bell pepper, zucchini, carrots and paprika. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
- To assemble, in a 9 by 12-inch baking dish layer half of beef, pressing down to pack in, then sprinkle the cheese on evenly. Pour the remaining half of the beef over the cheese and press down. Next, add the sauteed vegetables and top with the mashed potatoes, spreading out with a spatula or the back of a spoon to even out and to form decorative peaks and valleys. Sprinkle top with paprika and bake for 30 minutes or until edges on potatoes turn golden brown.
- Serve with Mushroom Onion Gravy.
Mushroom Onion Gravy:
- 1/2 large onion, chopped
- 8 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup red wine (As I don’t slip the pug anything cooked with wine and he hit me with sad eyes while cooking, I substituted beef stock**)
- 2 cups beef broth
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, saute onions and mushrooms in oil until tender and mushrooms release their moisture, about 5 minutes. (Remember – don’t crowd the mushrooms or they won’t brown) Add flour and stir to evenly coat. Slowly whisk in wine and then the broth. Simmer until thickened and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
**NOTE: Before y’all (or Meowmix) slaps me for feeding the pug people food, he is slipped treats on occasion and he takes his title of “Sous Chef” seriously. He can often be found watching Food Network during the day or stalking the oven & stove. Wiggs fully endorses this recipe…
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