Sometimes I get the strongest craving for red meats. Mostly I enjoy filling this craving with ground beef. One dish that ends up usually making for a fabulous hit to both a beefy and gravy-esque set of cravings is this Shepard’s pie. Even on the hottest of days, sometimes this can hit the spot. However, usually it is best on a very cold night when the oven-warmed meats, veggies and gravy just stick to your inners and form an insulating layer against the chill.
This is a recipe that can change slightly every time you make it depending on exactly what bits and pieces you have on-hand. It works well with fresh and frozen veggies and can be a great way to use up those leftover meats or veggies that you’re staring at and wondering what in the name of all that’s holy can possibly be made with half an onion, an eggplant and a half cup of corn nibblets from the last few days!
So, to start off, this is the set of ingredients I pulled out for this casserole this time around:
As with most of my recipes I tend to get some onion sauteing in a huge pan with a dollop of oil. Add some salt and pepper here too to give those sweating onions a bit more emphasis to the flavor.
Then I add in as much meat as I want. This can be a tiny smattering of leftover chicken shredded up or a full hunking helping of hamburger. Few more spices to give the meat some extra ooomph.
While that is getting ready and all nicely browned, I tend to remember that I need to get the potatoes going. Luckily, I usually have these awesome packets of instant potatoes and don’t have to go scrambling to cut up potatoes to boil (which is the long way if you don’t already have leftover potatoes on-hand).
Following the packet directions I set some water to boiling for my powdered potato flakes to become lovely fluffy mashed potatoes. But, I can’t just accept a packet of food AS IS. I always tweak stuff. So, into the bowl I add a few very thinly sliced bits of butter and spices. Be careful with the pepper; I’ve learned that it always looks like less in the bowl than it is! Easier to add more than it is to subtract…
So, now we’ve got water trying to boil to make our instant taters and the meat should be getting nicely browned. Now is a good time to siphon off the grease that the meat has released. You don’t want all that oil to make the casserole loose and fall-aparty!
Once that is ready, I get all those veggies bits and toss them in with the meat. For me the awesome flavor of the entire combo is better when the veggies all get mixed together, rather than layered.
Now it is time to add that flavor combiner: gravy! If you have leftover homemade, this is an awesome time to use it. Otherwise, I just go with a tasty jar of my favorite gravy and mix it all together.
While that barely heats up and mixes together, the water for the potatoes should be nice and boiling. Pour in the required amount of water to your bowl and melt that butter. Then mix in your packets and fluff it all up with a fork.
Now, spread your warmed-up gravy mix of meats and veggies and place into the bottom of your casserole dish. The potatoes will go on top.
All that remains is to place the sprinkle of cheese atop the mashed potatoes that you’ve spread over the meat.
Because everything is cooked you don’t really have to worry about making sure everything bakes for a certain time. Just look for the cheese to get nicely browned as you like and wait for the gravy juices to begin bubbling up around the edges. Oh, and unless you want to be cleaning gravy from the bottom of your oven, you might want to place this casserole on top of a cookie sheet to catch any overflow. Just sayin’….
Once done, you will have a lovely, bubbly, golden-brown dish that will aroma-ize the house with welcoming comfort.
Each serving will be oozing with gravy, veggies, meats and cozy-warm-baked love. Oh, and cheese. Om nom nom.
- Ground Hamburger meat, raw (or, Chicken cubes, or pork, or any meat really. Eggplant would make a tasty alternative for my vegetarians out there. As would some portabellas. Mmmm mix them both in there!)
- packet(s) of instant potatoes (or leftover mashed potatoes)
- Veggies! (Corn, peas, carrots if you like them, more eggplant and mushrooms, asparagus, whatever you have that strikes your fancy or needs using up)
- Gravy (jar or leftover homemade if on-hand)
- Shredded cheese for top
- Set oven to 375 degrees
- Fry up the onions
- Add the meat (and/or eggplant, mushrooms)
- Add the other veggies
- Make up the potatoes
- Layer it into your dish: meaty/veggies/gravy mix, taters
- Top with cheese
- Put on a cookie sheet (layer this with foil too if you want an easy clean-up afterwards)
- Bake for about 10-30 minutes until all bubbly and nicely browned on top
- Serve. Eat. Relax.
Food is fuel. Sometimes that fuel is comforting as well as nourishing. This, is one of those times.