Some of today’s recipes come from humble beginnings, having been born out of food shortages and hard times. One such is Shepherd’s Pie. We may eat it only on St. Patrick’s Day, but it’s typical pub grub served throughout the Irish and English countryside.
It’s good to know you can come up with a tasty meal, if you have some ground beef, potatoes and a few vegetables. Austin, keeper of the family culinary flame, made this hearty Shepherd’s Pie while visiting me at the farm recently. I’d not made it for several years, so it was a real treat.
He chopped carrots, onions, and garlic to make a soffritto. (A parsnip would’ve been a worthy addition, but they’re not on my Instacart listing.) When the soffritto was soft and fragrant, he added ground beef.
I might pause here to point out that Shepherd’s Pie is normally made with ground lamb, a cheap an easy meat to find in the British Isles. When the dish is made with beef, it’s called Cottage Pie. Both names denote rural origins.
When the meat had browned nicely, Austin pushed the mixture aside and sprinkled in some flour—he likes to brown the flour a bit to get a nutty, more complex flavor. Next came the chicken stock, forming the binder that held the mixture together.
Meanwhile, he’d boiled and mashed potatoes, adding cheese and parmesan. You can also add a cooked and mashed turnip, if there’s not enough humbleness in the pie to suit you. 🙂
Austin patted the meat and vegetable concoction into a cast iron skillet and smeared the potatoes on top. To achieve a good edge of brow, he scored the potatoes slightly with a fork before inserting in the oven.