It isn’t very often that my husband requests meals that aren’t pizza, spaghetti, tacos, or spicy chicken with noodles (recipe coming soon). Every pay period, I menu plan. When I’m near the end of my rope with recipes and I can’t take looking at another cookbook or food blog, I ask him if there’s anything he wants in particular. As I said, he’s pretty easy. He usually wants easy stuff. That’s nice sometimes because it means he’s not hard to please. But culinarily (is that a word?), I’m always ready to make something new and exciting. He very, very rarely gives me a challenge in that department.
That is, until one day about a month ago. On this evening before I was to go to the grocery store, I was making my menu and list as usual, and I still had two dinners to account for. I asked him what he’d like and much to my surprise, he asked for something I’ve never made and had zero clue that he had even ever eaten before! He asked for Shepperd’s Pie. I’m a vegetarian. I’ve made lots of meaty dishes before but I had never attempted something like this. I started, of course, with my best foodie friend’s help. Heather has a really funny history with this same dish, or some that resembles it. See, her husband grew up eating it in a very specific way, and refuses to eat it any other way. The way he likes it? With boxed mashed potatoes and canned carrots and peas.
Heather, being the Godly wife that she is, makes this favorite for her husband but she (rightly so) does not eat it. Needless to say, I knew I couldn’t ask her for her recipe. My husband would have liked it, I’m sure, because as I mentioned, he’s not at all picky. But I just wanted something more natural and homemade for my man. And just by the way, it sounds like such a manly meal, right?! It totally is, but don’t feel weird eating it if you’re a lady.
So, this is the recipe that I settled on. It was simple enough that I knew I could do it and it seemed like a pretty traditional take on Shepherd’s pie. Since I’m a vegetarian, I can’t actually vouch for this recipe on my own. I can, however, tell you that my husband enjoyed it immensely. He loved it. I think you will, too!
For the filling:
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, minced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced to 1/4 inch thick
1/2 tbsp tomato paste
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1/8 cup dry red wine
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp minced fresh thyme, or 1/4 tsp dried
1/2 cup frozen peas
For the potato topping:
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes (all I had were yellow potatoes, which worked well)
3 tablespoons melted butter
1/3 cup hot milk
salt and pepper, to taste
1 large egg yolk
- For the filling: Season the ground beef with salt and pepper and in a large pot, brown the beef. Transfer to a bowl. Set aside.
- Add oil to the pan and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and carrot and a generous pinch of salt and cook until soft, about 4-5 minutes.
- Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add broth, wine, and Worcestershire sauce and stir, taking care to scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Add thyme and reserved browned beef, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 25-30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the potato topping.
- For the potato topping: Place the potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender. You can test this by sticking a fork in the potato and if it goes in easily, the potatoes are ready.
- Draining the potatoes and place back in pot to mash. Mash with a potato masher and then add in melted butter, hot milk, and salt and pepper. I used a hand mixer here to get the potatoes nice and whipped. Lastly, add the egg yolk and mix until combined.
- To assemble: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stir peas into beef mixture and pour into a large baking dish.
- Drop large dollops of potatoes on top of the beef mixture and spread it out so that the potatoes evenly cover the beef mixture.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to turn golden brown. Let sit for 10 minutes and serve.
Source: Taste and Tell