Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Shepard's Pie

Shepard's Pie is probably not a proper title for this dish as 'shepard' implies sheep, and my dish had no lamb or mutton in it. But I do think that the basic idea of a gravy rich meat and veggie pie topped with mashed tubers is a good one. Be it lamb or beef or pork and any of those made into a loose sausage, it is a good comforting meal. I am not sure this is a good weeknight meal on my schedule. I made it Saturday and it took about an hour to get right.

First let me say that I have made several really bad Shepard Pies in my day. Either the seasonings weren't right, or they were too runny and not viscous enough. There is a perfect balance that must be met in the gravy to meat ratio. And often my potatoes are not soft enough, and they dry out when I would bake the pie. But at least once a year I would come back to it and try all over again. After this weekend it might show up a little more often.

If you have ever ordered Shepard's Pie at a proper pub it is usually a slightly runny mess of ground beef with a couple of frozen cubed carrots covered with really buttery mashed white potatoes. But it is possible to make this comfort classic a little more nutritious. And lastly, the idea to top the meat with sweet potatoes or yams came from our dear friends in Morocco who made this for us the first very jetlagged day we arrived last November.

1 pound of ground meat, beef, lamb, turkey, pork or any kind of sausage will do (I used a half a pound of ground beef and a half a pound of turkey sausage)
About a cup to a cup and a half of veggies, I used fresh carrots and frozen peas and corn
Sweet potatoes, I used one enormous one
Milk and Butter to make the mashed potatoes
1 cup Water for the gravy
Worcestershire sauce
Arrowroot Powder

First, put on the sweet potatoes to boil. Also set the oven to 350.

In a skillet with a lid, brown the meat. Add your veggies, water or stock and Worcestershire and cover until the carrots are cooked through. Adjust your seasonings with salt and pepper or more Worcestershire. Sprinkle in a little arrowroot powder and see how thick it gets. Add a little more until the gravy gets to the thickness you like.

Make the mashed sweet potatoes with the milk and butter (or no milk to make it lactose free). Then take the meat mix and place it into an oven safe dish. Top with the Sweet Potatoes and bake. I suppose you don't really NEED to bake it. You could just eat it as is. But something kind of magical happens in the oven. The gravy bubbles over into the sweet potatoes. The whole things kind of melds together.

The Things did NOT eat this meal. Thing 1 did not even take one bite. Thing 2 picked out the larger pieces of turkey sausage. But that was it. I think it was because it was a new dish. Perhaps next time it won't be so foreign. But DH sat up and begged. He was thrilled. A real pub meal at home? Very comforting in the cold weather.


  1. I love shepard's pie! That's a great idea to use sweet potato's, I will have to remember to try that next time. I personally don't like gravey, so when I make it I usually use a can of diced tomatoes instead. Gives it a little more veggies and it tastes great!

  2. Sounds really yummy. A good way to make it weekinght friendlier is to use leftover baked or already mashed potatoes/squash/veggies. So you brown your meat, preheat the oven and then bake a bit. Have been baking potatoes separately Sunday nights with whatever else is roasting for easy midweek use this month and it's great!

  3. Never thought to make this with sweet potato, will definitely try it this way!