I’m not dead yet! My flu has metamorphosed into a double ear infection, double eye infection, sinus infection, and upper respiratory infection. Thank goodness for high doses of amoxicillin… But that’s all I’m gonna say about sickness, as it’s not very appetizing.
In my last post, I asked you to tell me what type of cuisine I should attempt next. Well, a resounding reply (2 out of 3 total votes) says that the Brits have it. This is perfect timing, as I am still on the mend and Todd happens to have an outstanding family recipe for Shepherd’s Pie.
For those of you who haven’t heard of Shepherd’s Pie, it’s a marvelous combination of potatoes, mixed vegetables, and meat. Originally known as Cottage Pie, this dish was made with any leftover meat, like beef or lamb. In the late 1800’s, it also started being called Shepherd’s Pie. After searching Ye Olde Internet Machine, it seems like today it is called Shepherd’s Pie when it’s made with lamb and Cottage Pie when it’s made with beef. Todd says that both Cottage Pie and Shepherd’s Pie can be made with either lamb or beef, and that it probably just depends on where you are in the country. His family’s Shepherd’s Pie uses ground beef, so that’s the version we made today.
Here’s what you’ll need…
2 1-pound bags of red potatoes
1 pound of ground beef
1 bag of frozen mixed vegetables
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 C milk
2-1/2 Tbsp. beef bouillon
2 tsp. cinnamon
salt & pepper
Start by boiling some water in a stock pot. Rinse the red potatoes and cut them into manageable pieces. The ones we bought were pretty small, so I only had to cut them in half. Next, boil the potatoes.
While your potatoes are boiling, chop your onion. Or in my case, get your husband to chop your onion using the “my eyes are already sensitive from the antibiotic drops I have to use… waaaaah!” crying excuse. Add some oil to your pan (or your wok, if your wok-obsessed husband is at the helm) and cook your onions until they are slightly translucent. You don’t want to overdo it at this stage, as they will be cooking more in the pan and in the oven.
Brown the ground beef in the pan with the onions. Add the salt, pepper, bouillon, and cinnamon while it browns. The bouillon powder we use is Oxo brand, and we can only find it at some ethnic grocery stores, World Market, and when Todd’s dad goes to the UK on business. The cinnamon is Todd’s family’s secret ingredient. I wouldn’t have believed it, but it completely makes the dish.
This is the point in the cooking where the kitchen starts to smell amazing. I could barely smell it tonight, but the few whiffs that I could manage were wonderful. It smells like home. I feel like that sentence belongs in a food-centric love song…
While your beef browns, your potatoes should be ready to mash. Strain the potatoes and mash them with the awesome potato-masher you found at a garage sale for 50 cents. I feel like companies figured out that if they made products that never wear out, people will never have to buy another one, so they started making them out of cheap materials so they will break and people will have to buy new ones. And I have turned into my sometimes cynical mother. I bought a potato-masher from Target a few years ago. It was made of plastic and the holes were 3 or 4 different shapes. I don’t think it broke. I think I donated it to Goodwill because it didn’t mash anything. It just kind of flattened it because the holes were too small and weirdly shaped. This 50 cent masher works a lot better. I will never buy another one again. Take that, cheap potato-masher manufacturers!
Add the butter, cut up into smaller slices, a large pinch of salt, and the milk. As you can see, we only had about 1/4 C. of milk left, so that’s what we’re going with.
Now, your beef should be browned. Grab an 8×8 or 9×9 inch casserole dish and pour in your beef mixture. Next, add your bag of frozen mixed vegetables. If you keep them frozen, they won’t get all soft and mushy when they are in the oven. They will stay nice and crisp. (If you don’t believe me, just remember that this method has been used in the UK for hundreds of years. Are you going to disagree with me now? That’s what I thought.) Mix up the beef and frozen vegetables.
Now, spread your mashed potatoes over the beef. Pretend you are frosting a cake, but the cake is beef and veggies, and the frosting is mashed potatoes. That makes this the best cake ever. (Again, don’t argue. Hundreds of years.)
This next part is optional, but it is just how Todd does it. When you’ve completely smoothed out your mashed potato layer, drag a fork through the potatoes making the surfaced ribbed. The ridges get crispy and delicious.
You get a lot of pictures of potatoes, because this is the best part of the dish.
Put this in the oven for 25 minutes at 375 degrees. It’s ready when the ridges on top look golden brown, like this:
Now, if you have it, make some gravy. We’re going to used another British product: Bisto. Heat up about a cup of water. (Todd used the Keurig to do this…) Add 2 spoonfuls of Bisto powder and stir. It should be runny, almost like beef broth.
And your finished product should look like this:
Whether you call it Shepherd’s Pie, Cottage Pie, Cattle Pie, or even Cow Pie, this dish is delicious. It is exactly the type of meat and potato dish that I was raised on in the Midwest, but it has all the comforts of Todd’s childhood in England, making it the perfect dish for the two of us.
I think this is the first time I’ve specifically stated that I use a name brand product, so I think I’ll just include a quick disclaimer on this post. Some bloggers are fortunate enough to have companies offer them free products and goodies in hopes that they will sing their praises in blog form. I have nowhere near the audience for that, but just in case you were wondering, Todd and I purchase our own Oxo and Bisto. I am not against product hand-outs, but if I would ever receive such an offer, I would tell you just that. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s awful product placement in TV shows, and I wouldn’t do that to you. I will only recommend products that are awesome. That’s my promise to you, my reader and my friend.
In case you want to check out Oxo and Bisto, click on the pictures below.
I know this post wasn’t about trying something new, but I’m still recovering, and I decided to let Todd help me out a bit. It’s been a while since we were in the kitchen together, and it was a much needed change of pace.
Now that I’ve shared a British recipe with you, what do you want me to try next? Let me know in the comments section below.
Until the next taste,