Sunday, April 4, 2010

Shepard's Pie

Holidays often mean great leftovers.  After the Easter lamb, try the original Shepard's Pie using leftover, finely sliced lamb instead of cooked ground meat.

Shepard’s Pie is a leftover dish with lots of room for variation.  A layer of gravy'd meat followed by a layer of cooked vegetables is topped with potatoes and baked for a little over half an hour at 350˚F.  Dinner is ready when the center is hot and the potatoes are lightly browned.

You can plan for leftovers by baking a few extra potatoes and making extra vegetables to ensure you'll have enough for the dish or cook additional vegetables to fill in when you are ready to make the pie. This recipe calls for carrots and peas but asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli or green beans make a nice middle layer too.

The topping here uses both sweet and regular baked potatoes for a twist on the traditional pie.  Mashed rutabaga or mashed potatoes mixed with pureed spinach, broccoli or sliced cooked cabbage also make lovely toppings dotted with butter or grated cheese.

Cooked ground meat or very thinly sliced roasts bathed in gravy are the base.  We never seem to have made enough gravy.  Here is how to make a quick beef gravy with a can of beef broth if you have also run out.  If you have pan juices, add these to your gravy for extra flavor.

Need More Gravy
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup low-sodium beef broth (or homemade)
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper
optional: 2 tablespoon dry sherry or milk-- added to beef broth before mixing into flour

In a small, heavy-bottomed pot, melt butter over medium-low heat.  Add flour and stir to combine.  Keep stirring while flour cooks (about 2 minutes).  Next whisk in warm or room temperature beef broth and stir vigorously until all ingredients are incorporated and sauce is smooth.  Add thyme and salt and pepper to taste.  Lower heat and continue to stir until gravy has thickened.

Shepard’s Pie
Preheat oven to 350˚F.
Lightly spray a casserole or deep pie dish with cooking oil and start layering:

Layer 1
2 cups leftover meat—lamb or beef
3/4 cup gravy

Layer 2
2 cups cooked vegetables-- carrots and peas

Layer 3
2 each baked sweet and Idaho potatoes peeled and mashed with
1 tablesspoon butter
2 ounces milk or sour cream

Optional Layer 4
1/4 cup grated cheese

Bake pie at 350˚F for 35-45 minutes.  Pie is ready when internal temperature reaches 165˚F and the top is lightly browned. 

Shepard's Pie freezes well for up to six weeks.  Leave off the cheese and cool completely, wrap well, label and freeze.  To cook, bake from frozen covered at 325 for 1 hour.  Remove cover and sprinkle with grated cheese.  Cook another 15-20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165˚F and the top is lightly browned.