Easy Shepherd’s Pie

April 19, 2018

On my last meal plan, I linked to Ina Garten’s Chicken Pot Pie, a favorite among my kids. I do tend to chuckle a bit though when I’m scrolling through her recipe and see her steps for ‘making your own puff pastry’. This seems a lovely thing to know how to do, along with making all my own baby food and growing my garden from seedlings. But, as Shauna Niequist once said, the baby food people do a really good job at making baby food so she just let them, and outsourced that part of her life. Apart from adding water and an immersion blender to what I’m making everyone else, I follow this logic and buy my baby food. And you know what? Pepperidge Farm does a really good job at making puff pastry, so I just use theirs, and use Ina’s recipe for the filler because it’s delicious. The whole thing comes together in less than 30 minutes and tastes like from scratch cooking.

There is something to this idea of finding ways to outsource what you can in the kitchen. The last time I made Shepherd’s Pie, which my family loves, I got to thinking…

What if I let the mashed potato people do their job?

I ordered all natural mashed potatoes from my grocery delivery service, and I was very skeptical, but you know what? They tasted like they were homemade.

The next time I made Shepherd’s Pie, I used ready-made mashed potatoes and was stunned by how easy it all was. I use Alton Brown’s recipe, but now I chuckle when I scroll past all the steps to make the potatoes.

Even though his recipe yields amazing mashed potatoes, I really love skipping a half hour of work. I use his recipe for the filling, and then open up two packages of store-bought mashed potatoes and smear it on top. (One half is the Oprah Cauliflower kind for the adults who are trying to be a little healthy, and one half is all natural regular). Last time I mixed in an egg, which Alton’s recipe calls for in the potatoes and there wasn’t a huge difference.

Isn’t it great having options in pulling together dinner? Some days there’s time to make things from scratch, but on the days there isn’t (…cough, twin babies…), short cuts that don’t skimp on flavor and aren’t filled up with junk like preservatives and chemicals are always welcome.

We made it again last night because now it is moved to our easy meal list. My daughter said, “I love how comforting this dinner is.” If everything else in this week is a bust, we’ve got that.

Here’s hoping this brings Shepherd’s Pie to your family table a little more regularly.

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Easy Shepherd’s Pie (printer version here🙂

Ingredients

For the potatoes: You can use 2 pre-made potato packages and skip this step

  • 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg yolk

For the meat filling:

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

  • 1 cup chopped onion

  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced small

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste

  • 1 cup chicken broth

  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves

  • 1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves

  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen English peas

Directions

{SKIP IF USING PRE-MADE POTATOES: Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch dice. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and easily crushed with tongs, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Place the half-and-half and butter into a microwave-safe container and heat in the microwave until warmed through, about 35 seconds. Drain the potatoes in a colander and then return to the saucepan. Mash the potatoes and then add the half and half, butter, salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth. Stir in the yolk until well combined.}

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Prepare the filling. Place the canola oil into a 12-inch saute pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and carrots and saute just until they begin to take on color, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the lamb, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.

Add the corn and peas to the lamb mixture and spread evenly into an 11 by 7-inch glass baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula. Place on a parchment lined half sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Recipe adapted from Alton Brown’s on The Food Network

 

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Kathleen
    April 19, 2018 at 1:28 pm

    This looks delicious! And Amen to outsourcing babyfood. I made it for my first baby and after that we just bought it!!!

  • Reply
    Weekly Meal Plan 10/2 | Katie Curtis
    October 4, 2018 at 10:02 am

    […] Day, St. Therese the Little Flower. I am linking my Root Vegetable version (usually post my Easy Shepherd’s Pie) for a little […]

  • Reply
    Molly
    November 13, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    Love your half healthy solution:) I do this but with sweet potato topping. also healthy and gives it a little sweetness. and my kids devour it!

    • Reply
      Katie
      February 11, 2019 at 2:26 pm

      Yum! That sounds so good! Will have to try it!

    Leave a Reply to Weekly Meal Plan 10/2 | Katie Curtis Cancel Reply