Here’s another comfort food “oldie-but-goodie.” Hot and bubbly from the oven ground meat and vegetable casserole topped with a classic whipped potato crust that forms a nicely browned top layer. Mimi’s Shepherd’s Pie is made special by adding a can of creamed corn on top of the meat and vegetables and before the potato layer is slathered on. Warm and satisfying, indeed. YUM!
And there’s the bonus of the rich brown gravy that comes together as the casserole bakes. This is one of my son-in-law’s favorite meals, cold day or not. And it’s easy to make – this is a good dish for beginning cooks. It’s a no-brainer.
I learned to add creamed corn from this recipe at Bitchin’ Kitchen – who made her own. You know what else she taught me – make the mashed potatoes with both sweet and russet potatoes. The resulting mashed potatoes are orange – perfect to serve kiddos before a Halloween Night on the Town. And she tops the mashed potato topping with crushed potato chips for a nice crunch. Yes, I’ve made her recipe and it’s fabulous! You can find Nadia G’s recipe HERE. I loved Bitchin’ Kitchen. If you’ve never watched her show, it’s well worth seeking out. Nadia was not only a talented chef, but she also has a twisted sense of humor that I adore. Her show was fun, and she and her support cast of characters always me laugh, and I learned a lot, too. Nadia had an interesting take on some classic recipes like KEY LIME HABENERO CHEESECAKE. Or how about her CREAMY GORGONZOLA AND PORTOBELLO MUSHROOM RISOTTO? I adore her pizza dough recipe found HERE At Mimi’s Table.
I digress . . . I did not make this pie with sweet potatoes. However, just substitute 1/2 sweet potatoes and 1/2 russet potatoes and there you have it.
What makes this recipe soooo easy?
We all should have a pound or two of lean ground beef/turkey in the refrigerator/freezer, right? Use your microwave to defrost frozen ground beef/turkey, if that’s what’s happening in your busy world. And all the rest is assembled from frozen vegetables like peas & carrots, chopped onions. And canned creamed corn, if you aren’t into making your own like Nadia G.
Dare I say it? Yes, buy ready-made mashed potatoes, if you must, but you’ll need a couple of packages for adequate top layer cover – that’s expensive but at times necessary. I get it. If you have time, make your own mashed potatoes with russets or russets/sweet potatoes. Your people will love you.
Shall we cook together? I think so.
Start your potatoes
You know the drill. Peel 2-3 pounds of potatoes. I opt for more potatoes – in my family’s world that’s the most important part. Russets are preferred here. Or an equal combination of russets and sweet potatoes. Put the potatoes in a large pot, cover with water, 2 teaspoons Kosher salt, and bring to a boil. Boil potatoes for 10 minutes, turn off the heat, cover with a lid and let sit for another 10 minutes. This is the way I like to prepare potatoes to be mashed. I have an electric stove-top, so when I turn off the heat on the burner, the potatoes benefit from a moving-to-cooler bath. They’re not boiled to death. While the potatoes are processing, I get the meat layer ready.
Get the meat layer ready
Brown 2 pounds of ground beef over medium-high heat. I would recommend using nothing less than 85% fat content beef. Yes, 75-80% ground beef is cheaper, but there’s so much fat drained off after browning that I’m not sure cheaper ground meat is cost-effective. Nadia uses ground sirloin, a great lean choice. Or use ground turkey browned in 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, an excellent substitute, leaner, protein-packed, and calorie-friendly. Want to go crazy? Use ground lamb.
Once the meat is browned, drain off fat leaving about 2-3 Tablespoons in the skillet. Add one large chopped onion and saute until translucent. Add 1-2 cloves of crushed garlic and cook for another minute. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon ground black pepper.
Add one cup of beef broth then add 1-2 12oz bags of frozen peas and carrots, stir and cook through until the veggies are thawed and hot. Adding a second bag of frozen vegetables is a fabulous way to extend the recipe – you can serve more people.
Assemble the first layer
Distribute cooked meat layer in the bottom of a 9×13″ baking dish.
Drain and mash potatoes
I rarely measure the milk/half ‘n half I use. Usually, I just pour maybe 1/2 cup and mash with 1/4 stick of butter. If the potatoes are too dry, I add a little more milk/half ‘n half and mash again until I get the right consistency. For this recipe, it’s OK if the potatoes are a little wet – they’ll spread easier and liquid will evaporate as the casserole bakes. I added 1 teaspoon of dried chives to this batch. And I either use milk or half ‘n half or a mixture of both depending on my mood. If I want really rich tasting mashed potatoes, like for the holidays, I’ll use only half ‘n half.
Then slather the mashed potatoes evenly over the meat mixture. Proper Shepherd’s Pie has lots of mashed potatoes.
Pop into a 350°F oven for 20-25 minutes. Everything is cooked, so you’re basically heating the casserole through. Flip on the broiler and let the mashed potato layer get nicely browned.
I like to serve my Shepherd’s Pie in bowls, like pasta bowls. And serve with warmed, crusty bread with butter. Or serve with a nice green salad.
- 1-2 lbs lean ground beef, ground turkey, or ground lamb
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-2 12oz bags frozen mixed vegetables without diced potatoes
- 1 15oz can creamed corn
- 2-3 pounds potatoes, any combination of russets and sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
- ½ - ¾ cup whole milk
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon dried chives
- Heat oven to 350F degrees.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown ground meat. If you're using very lean meat, add 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil to promote browning.
- Add diced onion and minced garlic. Stir and sautee for 3-5 minutes until the onions become translucent.
- Add frozen vegetables and stir until heated through.
- While the meat is browning, prepare the potatoes. Put cubed potatoes in a large pan, cover with water, add 2 teaspoons salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat a bit and allow potatoes to gently boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, put on the pan lid, and allow potatoes to steep in the hot water for 10 minutes. Drain. Return potatoes to the heat. Add milk or half 'n half and butter, and mash. Add chives and stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed.
- Once the meat/vegetable mixture is done, spread evenly in the bottom of a 9x13" baking dish. Add one cup beef broth or reconstituted beef bullion. Evenly spread creamed corn over the meat/vegetable mixture.
- Slather the top of the casserole with warm mashed potatoes, and spread evenly. Bake uncovered in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the casserole is heated through.
- Turn on the broiler and let the mashed potato layer evenly brown. About 5-10 minutes.
- Serve in wide pasta-type bowls with warm crusty bread and butter, or with a nice green salad.
Use any lean meat - beef, turkey or lamb. If using lamb, I'd crank up the garlic. And use russet potatoes or a combination of white and sweet potatoes for the mashed layer.