Shepherd’s Pie – v4 – Janurary 2011

I never had shepherd’s pie as a kid of dinner, so I really had no concept of what should go into a “true” Shepherd’s Pie. So starting with a base recipe off of Food Network. Here is the heavily modified recipe that I came up with.  Since if I’m going to rework a recipe, I might as well add stuff that I would want to eat.

Ingredients:

  • ~2 lb piece of a beef chuck roast, cut into ~1″ cubes
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 small can of sliced mushrooms, or 8 oz of fresh button mushrooms, cleaned & quartered
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder, or two fresh cloves minced
  • 1 (10 3/4 ounces) can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup
  • 1lb bag of frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, green beans and corn)
  • Half of a 1lb bag of french cut frozen green beans
  • 2 lbs mashed potatoes, using this America’s Test Kitchen Recipe

Technique:
In a Dutch oven heated to medium-high, add a tablespoon or two of olive oil, and then brown the beef on all sides in two to three batches. Then in the empty Dutch oven brown the onions, mushrooms and garlic, once browned, add back into the pot the browned beef, the condensed soup and all the frozen vegetables. Mix everything up for about 5 minutes, so that everything in the pot is coated with the cream of mushroom soup.

Finally add the hot mixture to a 9″x13″ (~ 3 quart) glass baking dish and top with the mashed potatoes, placing the Pyrex dish on a jelly roll pan to catch any “boil-overs”. Then bake un-covered in a pre-heated 375F oven for at least 1 hour (but it’s closer to 2 hours), making sure that the vegetables are fully cooked and tender before serving.

Side Notes:
1) For some reason, you really need to let this dish cook for a long time. Since the original recipe called for 30-45 mins of baking time, but this is barely long enough to even heat the dish through. So my advise is to go with a 2 hour baking time.
2) I have to say, that I really like the way that this dish tastes, since it kind of reminds of a beef and barley stew, put with a layer of mashed potatoes on top. But as with all good things, I only make this dish a couple of times each year, just so it doesn’t turn into one of those default dishes you make every Sunday for family dinners.
3) Something about the idea in the original recipe of using ground beef, just doesn’t sound appetizing to me. Maybe it has something to do with watching an episode of Kitchen Nightmares a long time ago, in which the restaurant that was featured had a shepherd’s pie on their menu that was totally disgusting, and it used ground beef in the pie. Hence why I went with cubes of beef instead.
4) Also feel free to swap out the vegetables, since I already had the mixed vegetables and green beans in the freezer. But you can easily add in broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, etc, to suit your fancy.

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