Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Shepherd's Pie

This International  Poor Man's Chef brings a traditional English dish from across the pond to these cheapskate shores -- a hearty Shepherd's Pie that will leave you gobsmacked. Also called a Cottage Pie (when using ground meat,) it's a thick top crust of squidgy (mashed) potatoes covering a rich beef sauce loaded with carrots, onion, peas, and ground poultry. You may think I'm off my trolley,  but I guarantee you will be begging for seconds!

This one-pot meal is the Mutt's and absolutely fabulous on a cloudy and parky winter's day. Plus it's cheap, just the way this threepenny bit pinching bloke likes it. You could even bring this as a potluck dish to your next do.

I'm not codswalloping when I say it's really so easy peasy to do: just saute some ground meat, onion, carrots, and green peas, then add a cracking rich broth of beef stock and tomato paste flavored with Worcestershire sauce. This luscious filling is thick like a chicken pot pie. You finish it with a topping of your favorite mashed potato recipe, bake for half an hour, and Bob's your uncle!

A traditional Shepherd's Pie is made with any leftover meat, usually lamb. I keep my recipe low fat using ground turkey or chicken, instead of typical fatty ground beef and hard-to-get, expensive lamb -- but don't worry it's still scrummy.

And the ingredients couldn't be cheaper, right? I always find ground turkey and chicken at my local 99c only Store, while a regular market carries frozen tubes of it in deli cases for just over a buck. You can't get cheaper than onions, carrots and potatoes. The most expensive ingredient is frozen green peas, but you will barely use half a package.

There's more to British food than popular Fish and Chips (of course I have my own recipe version here) -- so, if you fancy, do give my latest entree a butcher's hook. You will happily devour The 99 Cent Chef's savory Shepherd's Pie, it's the bees' knees.

Click here to translate all the italicized British slang that I used.

    Ingredients (about 4 - 6 servings)
    • 1 pound ground turkey or chicken - okay to use ground beef.
    • 6 medium potatoes - about 1 1/2 cups when mashed. I used Russet, but any cheap type will do.
    • 1 cup carrots - roughly chopped
    • 1 cup frozen peas - thawed. Canned peas are too mushy, but go ahead and use a drained can if that's all you've got.
    • 1 medium yellow or white onion - chopped
    • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste - If you use tomato sauce, about 1/2 cup.
    • 2 tablespoons of  Worcestershire sauce.
    • 2 cups of beef stock - or one dissolved bouillon cube in 2 cups of water. Okay to use any favorite stock.
    • 1 tablespoon of oil - to saute veggies.
    • 2 tablespoons of flour - to thicken the sauce.
    • 3/4 cup of milk - to make mashed potatoes. Use your favorite recipe. Add butter if you want.
    • Salt and pepper to taste. You can leave out the salt if you use a salty bouillon cube.
    • Water to cover and boil potatoes.

    Start potatoes boiling. Should take about 1/2 hour, depending on how large they are. Done when a fork pierces the potato easily.

    Over medium heat add tablespoon of oil in a large pan. Next, add the chopped onion and carrots. Stir and saute until onion is tender, about 5 minutes.

    Scoop in the ground turkey or chicken. Spread out in the pan and allow to cook for a few minutes to firm it up. Break up the ground meat into chunks. Mix well and cook the meat until done, about 7 to 10 minutes.

    Now time to make the sauce. Add tomato paste (or tomato sauce,) Worcestershire sauce, flour, and stock (or water with dissolved beef bouillon cube) to saute veggies and meat. Mix well to dissolve the flour. Cook until sauce thickens like gravy, about 5 minutes. Add defrosted peas at the last minute.

    While the sauce thickens, the potatoes should be done. Cool off with cold water and peel them. (Of course, you could peel the potatoes first.) Add the peeled potatoes to a large bowl add 3/4 cup of milk and season with salt and pepper. Mash it all together. You should get about 1 1/2 cups to 2 cups of mashed potatoes. If you have a favorite mashed potato recipe then use that.

    Now time to assemble it all. In a deep baking dish (or two, depending on how large the dish is) add the meat and veggie filling - don't fill it up all the way, leave about an inch of clearance. Now spoon on the mashed potatoes to cover the top of the meat and veggie filling. You can carefully smooth out the mashed potatoes to cover the top.

    Place the uncovered dish of Shepherd's Pie in a preheated 350-degree oven for about 30 minutes. You may want to place a large cookie sheet pan underneath the dish in case some of the filling bubbles out.

    Remove from oven and allow to cool down for a few minutes, this will allow the sauce to thicken. Ready to eat after about 3-5 minutes.

    For a more diet-friendly and healthier topping (I know spuds are too carb-heavy for some) try boiled or microwaved sweet potatoes. You could use steamed and mashed cauliflower, squash (butternut or acorn,) carrots, pumpkin, turnips, or any favorite veggie that you can mash.

    You could also substitute green peas with shelled edamame (soybeans) or green beans. Sometimes, I'll add a few sauteed sliced mushrooms.

    Instead of peas and carrots, you can just use a bag of your favorite frozen veggie blend. For frozen veggies, defrost first and add while you are heating the sauce (after the meat is done.)

    If you like a saucy filling, then add more stock - you may need a larger (or an extra) baking dish or pot.


    Ammie said...

    this looks great. getting chilly -- I'm making this tomorrow. cheers!

    99 Cent Chef said...

    hi saudade, let me know how it come out ;-p

    Unknown said...

    OMG! What a hit with the family! Thank you so much for such an easy recipe that fills everyone up on a cold winter day. This will now be in our regular meal rotation.

    99 Cent Chef said...

    Greetings from merrie olde England!
    Just to let you know, Shepherds Pie is only made with minced (ground) lamb and Cottage Pie with beef. There's also Cumberland Pie which is basically a Cottage Pie with a crust of cheese and breadcrumbs on top. All are some of the finest comfort foods known to man.

    We don't much go in for minced poultry over here, maybe the odd health zealot might put it in a chilli or spag bol. It's cold and damp a lot of the time here (Bolton, nr. Manchester) and you need something that will stick to your ribs.

    I enjoy your blog - we don't have 99c food shops as such but you've given me some ideas. Top drawer, right-ho!
    from superfuzz

    Randi said...

    mechanically separated turkey? WTH is that?

    99 Cent Chef said...

    You probably don't want to know, but it's a cheaper ground turkey or chicken - it's okay to use regular ground poultry in local grocery meat section ;-p

    Ammie said...

    it was great! I used ground turkey thigh with sweet potatoes as a topping *runs away from superfuzz* and my husband -- who loves shepherd's pie from the pub -- LOVED it.

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