The weather here the past week has been rainy, overcast and just miserable, which I love! I love the occasional grey day, it just makes me feel less guilty about spending my day with a book (ha!), the television (more likely) and snuggled up doing nothing (except making sure the Little Man is happy).
When the weather turns grey I find myself craving comfort food, and that usually means something my Mother used to make us or something made in the slow cooker. This week I opted to make something from my Mother; Shepard’s Pie.
Now, I know that this probably doesn’t constitute a “real” Shepard’s Pie (given that it’s made with beef not lamb) but it’s what I grew up with and I’ll be buggered if I’m calling it a Cottage Pie.
I really love this dish because it’s so quick to pull together and it makes so much that there’s always leftovers for the next day (and it tastes awesome on toast for breakfast!). Over the years I’ve tweaked Mum’s recipe a bit so I’ve included notes where I make changes, but the original recipe is still there if you want to start with the best version first and then try my version. (I think my Shepard is Italian!)
Gnome’s Mum’s Shepard’s Pie
500g Beef Mince
1 small onion, diced
Garlic, served to own taste
2 x Beef Stock Cubes
1 tablespoon Plain Flour
1 cup of Water
1 tablespoon Mixed Herbs
1-2 tablespoons Butter
1-3 tablespoons Milk
1 cup Shredded Tasty Cheese
1. Pre-heat oven to 180ºC.
2. Filling: Heat the non-stick pan (if not using a non-stick pan use a little bit of olive oil to coat the pan) and saute the onion and garlic. (Remember the trick to adding the garlic!)
3. Once the onion is starting to go transparent add the mince. Brown the mince, occasionally stirring.
4. Once mince has browned add the water, stock cubes and 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour and combine. Simmer until sauce is thick.
[I don't use stock cubes if I can help it so I use 1 cup of Liquid Beef Stock at this step. I've also tweaked this a little and at step 4 I add a can (800g) of diced tomatoes to the mix. I like the addition of the tomato, but each to their own. Sometimes if I'm feeling particularly daring I also add champignons (mushrooms) and peeled, diced carrot. A note of warning, the canned tomatoes can make it a bit runnier than normal, so you can either add another tablespoon of flour or just live with the runny. We live with it because it gives you more goodness to mop up with your crusty butter bread! Mmmmm.... ]
5. Topping: Put a large pot of water on stove to boil. Peel and cube potatoes. Once water is boiling add the peeled and cubed potatoes; boil potatoes until soft (ie. you can put a fork through them without any effort).
6. Once cooked, drain the potatoes and place in a bowl. Mash the potatoes adding in the butter, milk and ½ cup cheese until combined to make a potato mash.
[I like to add about 1 tablespoon of crushed garlic at this point. I’m also a fan of garlic!)
7. Once the mince sauce has thickened place it in a large oven proof dish (make sure the dish is big enough to contain all the mince sauce as well as the mashed potato). Top the mince sauce with the mashed potato. Sprinkle ½ cup of shredded cheese over the top of the mashed potato.
[I like to mix it up a bit here too… sometimes I like to sprinkle a bit of Parmesan cheese over the mash, then cover with shredded cheese. I also just use a mixture of whatever cheeses we have in the house, not necessarily just Tasty Cheese.)
8. Cook in oven until golden brown.
Serve with crusty bread and seasonal vegetables. (I’m a fan of steamed beans and corn… although truth be told we often just eat it without greens.)
Source: Gnome’s Mum
Note: Because I was strapped for time when making this version, and I was trying to be clever and have it ready made to go in the oven by the time HUBBY was headed home from work I struck on the idea to use the food processor to make my mash. I’m a friggin genius!
I put the boiled potatoes, milk, butter and garlic in the processor and whizzed it (technical term) until smooth. Brilliant! I hate chunky mash so this was great!
Only one problem – because you’re condensing the heck out of the potato you need to use twice as many, something I didn’t give much thought to. I still had enough to cover the mince sauce it just wasn’t as thick as we normally like it. But I’ll know for next time!