There is nothing fancy about Shepherd’s Pie. It isn’t pretty or exciting. In fact, it’s really quite unbecoming.
But darn it all, it tastes good. Shepherd’s Pie is the definition of good grub. (It is also the definition of 1950’s ‘casserole cuisine’.)
I made this Shepherd’s Pie the other night, in order to satisfy a a sudden and intense craving for wintery comfort food. It’s been quite chilly in Portland lately, and all I want to do is make soups, stews, and braises. Tis the season, I suppose. But, this particular craving for wintery comfort food was very specific. I really wanted to eat Shepherd’s Pie. To be honest, I can’t recall the last time I had a Shepherd’s Pie. I don’t think I’ve ever actually cooked one!
So I made a Shepherd’s Pie, and it was everything I hoped it would it. It was the epitome of wintery comfort food. Nich and I devoured it quickly and happily (he went back for thirds!).
The only problem with devouring it quickly? I only managed to snap one crappy iPhone photo of my rendition of Shepherd’s pie. Oh well. (Truth be told, even with a proper camera and lighting…it would still look ugly. That’s the thing about Shepherd’s pie. It’s just not a pretty dish.)
Since I don’t have a pretty photo to show for it, you’ll just have to trust me that this dish is worth making. So, if you feel yourself craving wintery comfort food, I recommend that you make this.
It’ll make you happy.
- 1 pound (organic grass-fed) ground beef
- 1 small white onion, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 of a fennel bulb, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 4 small red potatoes
- 2 parsnips
- 2 tablespoons goat cheese
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- Optional ingredient: Duck fat. I usually cook with organic, grass-fed beef which is very lean. I wanted to add a little bit of fat into the mix (as fat is delicious!) so I drizzled a teaspoon of duck fat into the beef. I understand that most of you don’t just have a pint of duck fat sitting in your fridge, hence why I’m including this as an optional step. I will say, however, that the duck fat was really quite delicious.
- Preheat the oven to 305 degrees F.
- Chop potatoes and parsnips into 1″ cubes. (I like to leave the skins on the potatoes and peel the parsnips). Place in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and allow the potatoes & parsnips to simmer until fork tender (15-20 minutes). Once cooked, drain off the water. Mash the potatoes and parsnips with the goat cheese, milk, rosemary, and salt and pepper. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on the stove in a large non-stick skillet. Cook the onions and garlic over medium heat for 4-5 minutes. Next, add in the fennel, celery, and carrots. Cook for 5-10 minutes, or until the veggies are lightly browned and tender. Remove the veggies to a small bowl and set aside.
- Season the ground beef with salt, pepper, red chili flakes, and dried thyme. Return the skillet to the stove and cook the ground beef over medium heat, until browned (5-10 minutes). Once the beef is cooked, stir in the tomato paste and the cooked vegetables. Stir to combine and cook for 2-3 minutes. (If using duck fat, pour over the mixture now.)
- Pour the mixture into a square (8×8) baking pan (or individual ramekins). Spread an even layer of the mashed potato mixture atop the beef. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until potato crust is just beginning to brown. Allow to cool slightly before serving.