Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Shepherd's Pie

First of all, I forgot to set my camera to macro that night, so this picture is not my favorite.

Second of all, if you ever happen to have leftover mashed potatoes like I did this week, I highly recommend that you use them to make this recipe.  I got it out of Natural Home, a magazine that my friend Amy works for as an editor.  

Not only did I get a great new recipe for Shepherd's Pie from this issue, but I also learned that if you mix 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar with 1/2 cup water and bring it to a rolling boil in your microwave, it will get rid of odors and loosen those stubborn baked-on bits of food so you can easily wipe the inside clean!  I haven't actually tried it yet but I'm excited!

Back to the meal;  I used a lot of variations in this recipe, only because I wanted to use what I had on hand already, but I think it's one of those recipes where there is a lot of wiggle room.  I didn't make the collard greens that it called for, because my mashed potatoes were already flecked with kale.  I used extra lean ground beef instead of turkey, and 2% milk instead of half-n-half.  Instead of chicken stock, I used mushroom broth, which smelled so unbelievably earthy and fantastic.  I think it paired perfectly with the beef.  I had frozen mixed veggies so I used those instead of just peas.  I love sweet potatoes so I want to try this again and use those (especially with the caramelized onions that get mixed in!), but I had white mashed potatoes already, as previously mentioned.

It sounds like a long list of ingredients and there are a lot of steps, but I have to say that in the end it is really worth it.  What might make it more approachable if you were short on time would be to make the potatoes (the topping) one night for a side dish, and save the rest to make this another night (you would just have less potatoes to spread over the filling).

Southern Shepherd's Pie
adapted from Natural Home
Serves 6-8

2 leeks, washed and sliced, white parts plus two inches of the green parts
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup collard greens
2 tablespoons mild olive oil
2 pounds ground white turkey meat
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Tabasco
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste (I use one of those squeeze tubes and it keeps in the fridge for a loooong time)  
1/4 cup half-n-half
1/2 cup beer (I used Full Moon Winter Ale)
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon soy sauce
5 pieces of fresh thyme
1 cup butterpeas, cooked

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon salt
2 large, sweet onions, sliced into 1/4 inch rings
Olive oil (vegetable oil might be more economical, since you need quite a bit)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup half-n-half

Preparing the filling: 

Start a pot of water boiling so you can blanch or lightly steam the collard greens.  When they are tender, roughly chop and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large pan over low heat, melt two tablespoons of butter and saute the leeks until they are tender but not browning.  Set aside with the collard greens.  

Wipe out the pan you just used to saute the leeks.  Heat the olive oil in the pan over medium heat, add the meat, stirring often to break it up.  Cook until browned.  Add the salt, Tabasco, flour, and tomato paste.  Stir it all together and cook for about 1 minute.  Add the half-n-half, cook, stirring, for another minute.  Add the beer, stock, soy sauce, and thyme.  Simmer over moderate heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened.  Stir often.

Off heat, stir in the peas, leeks, and collard greens.  Taste and season with salt and more Tabasco as needed.  Spoon the mixture into a 2-quart casserole dish.

Preparing the topping:

In a large pot, add the potatoes and salt, add water to cover by several inches.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let them cook for about 20 minutes, or until fork-tender.  Drain potatoes and return them to the pot.

In a large pan, add enough oil so it about an inch deep.  Heat until hot, but not smoking, then reduce to medium-low and add the onions.  Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring every so often, until the onions are very soft and deep brown (you want basically caramelized onions in the end).  

Back to the potatoes - mash them in the pot and add the butter, half-n-half, and the onions.  Taste and add salt if necessary.

Put it all together:

Use a spatula to spread the potatoes over the filling.  Bake at 375 F for 25-35 minutes.  Drink the rest of your beer while you wait.  It's done when the topping is bubbling furiously.  


  1. So cool, thanks for reading my magazine! I love that vinegar in the microwave trick. It's also great (not food-related) to dump a cup of vinegar in the toilet, leave for an hour or so, then come back and do your scrubbing.

  2. I like that idea too! We've always used bleach but I'd like to get away from those sorts of chemicals, so I'm going to try that next time.


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