Wednesday, March 16, 2011

shepherd's pie

Happy St. Patrick's day! Here in St. Louis we started the week with snow. Blech. So, even though the weather started to get warm and spring-like yesterday, I had already planned to make a nice, hearty, soul-warming meal that would pair well with Guinness. Shepherd's Pie!

I made Shepherd's Pie for the first time a few weeks ago when I took a pie class at Schnucks Cooks Cooking School with one of my BFF's, Julie. We used parsnips in that pie, which I thought was brilliant. Overall, though, I had some other ideas on ingredients and techniques to make it even better. For one thing, corn. I was always one of those kids that mixed my corn and mashed potatoes, so when I have mashed potatoes, I feel like I need corn. I also wanted the pie to be really rich in flavor, so I caramelized the onions slowly for extra depth and sweetness.

Shepherd's Pie

5 russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
water for boiling potatoes
1/2 stick butter
1 cup heavy cream

1 lb. ground beef
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 parsnips, peeled and chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, chopped fine
1/2 cup red wine
2 Tablespoons Worchestershire sauce
2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
dash of garlic powder
dash of onion powder
dash of coriander
big dash smoked paprika
big dash dried thyme
salt & pepper
water as needed

Make the mashed potatoes first: Submerge potatoes in water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, and boil until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. Drain well, return to pan, and mash, using a potato masher, adding butter and cream and salt as you go. Mash until smooth and creamy. Set aside.

In a dutch oven, brown beef. Set aside on a paper towel-line plate. Cook onion in beef fat over medium/low heat, stirring often, until they are nice and brown and sweet. Add wine, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan (yum!). Add parsnips, carrots, garlic and celery. Season with salt, and add Worchestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, coriander, paprika and thyme. Cook until vegetables start to soften and spices are fragrant. Add tomato paste, stir to coat. Add water as needed, about 1 1/2 cups. Add meat back in and add corn. Cook until vegetables are soft but not mushy, and the sauce is the desired thickness... thicker than stew, but still pourable.

Pour meat mixture into a 13x9 casserole dish. Place mashed potatoes in a large Ziploc bag, and snip off one of the corners. Carefully pipe the potatoes over the meat mixture. Bake in a 425ºF oven until potato topping browns at the edges. Serve.

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