Shepherd’s pie is really just pot roast with the mashed potatoes built right in. Probably the original intent was to use up tough beef and leftover potatoes, but I love meals that take place all in one dish. This kind of food is also right up Dom’s alley, because it ends what I call “that uncomfortable feeling”. Dom is one of the few people I know who eats to end the feeling of being hungry. It’s amazing, coming as I do from a family of people who are talking about dinner while eating breakfast. Real life example, Dom, my parents and I were driving to the grocery store during a recent trip Dom and I took back home to Michigan, Dom’s mom called him on the phone while we were in the car:
Dom’s mom: So what are you doing?
Dom: Driving to the grocery store with Cat and her parents.
Dom’s mom: Again?!
My parents and I: Shamed and silent, because it was the third trip to the grocery store in as many days. Probably we needed more bar cheese and sourdough pretzels.
Anyway. Shepherd’s pie is really hearty and dense. I put a bunch of vegetables in mine, including peas.* Also don’t skip the cremini mushrooms, they add a fantastic darkness to the broth. Creminis have a lot more flavor than regular white mushrooms. They’re more mushroomy, I guess, which is to say more like soil and meat. I also used chunks of stew beef, but you could use ground beef, or no beef at all, if you prefer.
*Yeah, peas. I put peas in it. I have a lengthy history of hating peas, dating back to a dish my grandmother used to make called Peas & Peanuts, which was exactly how it sounded, plus mayonnaise. It is super gross, and my Aunt Carol and I used to hate it together. I’m not saying I like peas, because I don’t, but they’re good in shepherd’s pie. Sorry Aunt Car Car.
1.5 lb stew beef, I typically cut mine into smaller cubes than come in the package, especially when I’m cooking on a weeknight and want to braise things quicker. In bite sized pieces, meat can become tender in about an hour rather than the several hours required by a pot roast.
2 large sweet onions, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp butter
1 tsp thyme
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp allspice
3 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups red wine
2 cups carrots, chopped
2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 bag frozen peas
4 baking potatoes, chopped
1 cup milk
salt and pepper, copious amounts
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large dutch oven on medium heat, cook 2 tsp of butter with the onions and garlic, and salt and pepper, until the veggies are translucent, about 15 minutes or so. Then put in the thyme, allspice and worcestershire, and let cook for a minute or so. Next, dump in the beef and let it cook for 10 minutes or so. Sprinkle the whole mess with the flour and cook for 3 more minutes. Then, put in the tomato paste, wine and mushrooms and let the whole thing cook for 40-60 more minutes, covered. This should cook as long as possible, ideally, but not less than 45 minutes or so. If you’ve just made a snack and can wait a little longer for dinner, I’d say let it simmer for 60-90 minutes.
During that 40 minutes, you can make the mashed potatoes. I cut mine into bite sized pieces, peel still on, and boil until tender, usually 20 minutes or so. Then drain them, mix in the milk, salt and pepper, and the rest of the butter and mash. Then set aside until ready to use.
After 40 minutes or so of cooking the meat/wine mixture, mix in the carrots and let cook for another 5-10 minutes. After that, mix in the peas. Then pour the whole thing into a 9 x 13 dish, and cover with the mashed potatoes.
Bake for as long or as short as you want. 15-30 minutes will see the potatoes get nice and brown, or 5 minutes is fine too if you’re hungry.