If this wet, grey, hail-y weather continues, we are in for a whole year’s worth of cold weather comfort food. The smell of this shepherd’s pie bubbling made me crave crunchy leaves and Halloween.
To be honest shepherd’s pie isn’t normally in my repertoire, but as I was pondering what to do with this leftover roast lamb (hash was my first thought… my mom used to make the crispiest hash with leftover roast beef, potatoes and onions – like a wedge of burger and fries all crisped up and smothered in ketchup) I was simultaneously working on an article on meals you can freeze ahead. Shepherd’s pie is traditionally made with lamb, and I saw it as another opportunity to chip away at my stash of sweet potatoes while making it healthier in the process. Typically SP is made with raw ground meat, but it can just as easily be done with finely chopped leftover roast. Honestly, you could make a shepherd’s pie out of anything – a panful of veggies, even, or robust mushrooms with onions and garlic – then sprinkle a spoonful of flour overtop and add a cup of stock; bring it to a simmer to thicken and scrape up the browned bits from the pan, and pour into a baking dish and top with mashed potatoes. You really don’t need a recipe here, just a basic formula.
Come to think of it – a vegetarian version made with meaty portobello mushrooms, onions and garlic, and Guinness in place of the stock, would be just fab. More appropriate in October though, I think. Under normal circumstances, anyway.
Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potatoes
2 largeish sweet potatoes or 3 largeish russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
a drizzle of canola or olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 lb. ground lamb, lean beef or bison (or 2-3 cups chopped leftover roast)
1 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
1 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. chopped fresh or dry rosemary (optional)
1 cup beef, veggie, onion or chicken broth
2 Tbsp. tomato paste or ketchup
1 cup frozen peas
2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup(ish) milk
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375°F. To cook the potatoes you can either roast them in their skins in the oven for about an hour, microwave them whole in their skins (poke them with a fork first) or peel, chop and boil them until soft.
In a large pan, heat a drizzle of oil and sauté the onion and carrot over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes or until soft; add the garlic and meat and cook for another 5 minutes, until the meat is cooked through and the veg are starting to brown a little.
If you want to add mushrooms, set the meat mixture aside (transfer it to a bowl or something), heat a little more oil and sauté the mushrooms until they release their moisture and then the moisture cooks off and they start to brown. Return the meat mixture to the pan. Sprinkle the flour overtop and stir it around until it coats the meat a little, then add the rosemary, stock and tomato paste and stir until the mixture bubbles and thickens, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the peas.
Pour into a baking dish, making sure it only fills it half full, so there is room for the potatoes.
Peel (if necessary) and mash the potatoes with the butter, milk and salt and pepper. Spread over the meat mixture and bake for about 45 minutes, until bubbly.
Per serving: 270 calories, 9.6 g total fat (2.8 g saturated fat, 4.4 g monounsaturated fat, 1 g polyunsaturated fat), 27.8 g protein, 17.9 g carbohydrate, 74.8 mg cholesterol, 2.5 g fiber. 32% calories from fat.