Shepherd’s Pie. At first glance, it seems like a humble, even somewhat ho-hum dish. Ground beef (or lamb, traditionally) mixed with a few veggies and topped with mashed potatoes. Comforting, sure. But amazing? Probably not. Except, actually, yes. It’s really, really delicious.
This version brings together ground beef with a little gravy, some onions, carrots, peas, and corn for the carnivores. Vegetarians get their own delectable version with diced crimini mushrooms and lentils in place of the ground beef. Both are topped with cheesy mashed potatoes then sprinkled with more cheese and breadcrumbs, then baked so the potatoes form a nice golden crust.
The recipe seems a little involved, but it really comes together pretty quickly considering all the elements. What I really like about the preparation is that you can do a little at a time and walk away if you need to. I sauteed the veggies during one short baby nap, prepped the ground beef and mushrooms/lentils during the next miniscule period of shut-eye, and made the mashed potatoes while she was happy in the swing for a few brief shining minutes; then I just stuck ’em in the oven once my resident carnivore got home.
So take a crack at this rib-sticking, comforting dish today. As it turns out, it’s far from ho-hum.
[box type=”info”] If you’re after a little less shepherd’s pie but want a quick and easy meal in the future, place half of each filling into clearly marked freezer bags. Pull them out another day, let them thaw, spread the filling in separate casserole dishes. Then just make the mashed potatoes and follow the rest of the steps for a super-easy meal. I love the freezer!
Cheesy Shepherd's Pie with Ground Beef or Lentils and Crimini Mushrooms
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups chopped onion (about one large)
- 1/2 cup diced carrot
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1/2 cup frozen corn
- 2 teaspoons vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
- 2 pounds Russet potatoes (peeled and quartered)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Splash of half and half or milk
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
- 4 tablespoons breadcrumbs (I like to use the premade Italian seasoned breadcrumbs)
- Salt & pepper to taste
Plus, for the veggie side:
- 3/4 cup lentils
- 2 cups crimini mushrooms (also known as baby portobello mushrooms, diced)
And for the meat half:
- 3/4 pound ground beef
- In a large saute pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and the butter. Heat until the butter is melted. Add the onions and carrots and cook for about 8 minutes, until the onions are translucent.
- Stir in the flour and cook for about a minute, stirring constantly. Add the vegetable broth and, continuing to stir constantly, cook over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil, and reduce the heat, stirring until the mixture thickens.
- Add the peas, corn, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook for another couple of minutes then add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Cook the lentils according to package directions. Generally you'll rinse them, sort them (to make sure there aren't any little rocks or whatnot in there), and cook the 3/4 cup dried lentils with 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook for about 15 minutes until tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- In a medium saute pan, brown the ground beef, then drain.
- In another medium saute pan, saute the mushrooms over medium heat with a little olive oil until soft, about 6 minutes. Stir in the cooked lentils.
- Add half the onion/pea/corn gravy mixture to the ground beef, and the other half to the mushrooms/lentil mixture.
- Spread each mixture into two 8 x 8 casserole dishes. Set aside.
- Fill a large saucepan with about eight cups of water. Bring to a boil, then add the potatoes. Boil the potatoes for about 15 minutes, until you can insert a fork easily into the center. Drain the potatoes then return them to the pan. Add the butter, splash half and half or milk, sour cream, and one cup of the cheddar cheese. Mash the potatoes, then add salt and pepper to taste.
- Spread half of the potatoes over the meat mixture in the casserole dish, and the other half over the vegetable mixture.
- Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheddar cheese over each dish, then sprinkle each dish with 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs.
- Bake both dishes at the same time at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes or until the potatoes are nice and golden brown. Serve.