My mom used to make it for years but I always knew there was a better way to make it because the way she would make it was to just put seasoned raw ground beef into the bottom of the casserole dish and then add peas and then she would add mashed potatoes and then slices of Kraft slices cheese and bread crumbs on top. The cheese would form a solid layer of crust on top and the meat would be one solid lump of meatloaf on the bottom and very dry. I changed it up over the years and constantly developing it until this version that I think is the best version I have ever made. I took a few tips from Gordon Ramsey and some quality ground beef from local Cumbrae Meat Market to make this version.
Here's the RECIPE:
1 1/2 pounds of Lean Ground Beef
3 Russet Potatoes
2 Tbsp. Grated Parmesan
2 Tbsp. Grated Cheddar
t 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp. Parsley
1 Tsp. Thyme
1 Tsp each Salt and Pepper
1 cup of Frozen peas and carrots mix
1 Tbsp Worcester Sauce
1/2 cup red wine or Guinness Beer
1/2 cup of water
1 Tbsp paprika
1 Tsp cayenne
1 Tbsp flour
1/4 cup milk or buttermilk
3 Tbsp butter
1 Tsp ground nutmeg
1 small onion grated
2 cloves of garlic grated
Directions:In a large pot boil peeled and chopped 1 inch pieces of potatoes in salted water until fork tender. Approx 15-20 min.
While the potatoes are cooking in a skillet brown the Ground Beef and add the grated garlic and onion and salt and pepper to taste. Drain any excess fat if necessary. Add the flour and mix into beef mixture. Add the cayenne, paprika and tomato paste. Add the Worcester sauce and then add the wine or beer to deglaze the pan. Add the frozen peas and carrots (you can use fresh too but I would suggest cooking then separately first to par cook them. Add the water and cook until the mixture thickens and forms a gravy type of consistency from the liquids.
When the potatoes are cooked drain the water and add the butter, milk, nutmeg, half the parsley, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mash the potatoes and set aside until the beef mixture is done.
In a large casserole dish add the ground beef mixture then add the mashed potatoes on top and use a fork to fluff up the top layer. Add the cheddar and parmesan cheese on top of the Shepherd's Pie.
Bake in a 350ºF oven for about 25 minutes or until the top is bubbly and browned slightly.
Great for freezer meals.
History of Shepherd's Pie
The English tradition of meat pies dates back to the Middle ages. Game pie, pot pie and mutton pie were popular and served in pastry "coffyns." These pies were cooked for hours in a slow oven, and topped with rich aspic jelly and other sweet spices. The eating of "hote [meat] pies" is mentioned in Piers Plowman, and English poem written in the 14th Century. (Cooking of the British Isles, Adrian Bailey, pages 156-7) The Elizabethans favored minced pies. "A typical Elizabethan recipe ran: Shred your meat (mutton or beef) and suet together fine. Season it with cloves, mace, pepper and some saffron, great raisins and prunes..." (Food and Drink in Britain: From the Stone Age to the 19th Century, C. Anne Wilson, page 273). About mince and mincemeat pies. Maine style Chinese Pie descends from this venerable culinary tradition.
The key to dating Shepherd's pie is the introduction (and acceptance) of potatoes in England. Potatoes are a new world food. They were first introduced to Europe in 1520 by the Spanish. Potatoes did not appeal to the British palate until the 18th Century. (Foods America Gave the World, A. Hyatt Verrill, page 28). Shepherd's Pie, a dish of minced meat (usually lamb, when made with beef it is called"Cottage Pie") topped with mashed potatoes was probably invented sometime in the 18th Century by frugal peasant housewives looking for creative ways to serve leftover meat to their families. It is generally agreed that it originated in the north of England and Scotland where there are large numbers of sheep--hence the name. The actual phrase "Shepherd's Pie" dates back to the 1870s, when mincing machines made the shredding of meat easy and popular." (The Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson, page 717). Related dishes: Chinese pie & Rappie pie.
Where does "Cottage Pie" fit in?
"In present day English, cottage pie is an increasingly popular synonym for shepherd's pie, a dish of minced meat with a topping of mashed potato. Its widening use is no doubt due in part to its pleasantly bucolic associations, in part to the virtual disappearance of mutton and lamb from such pies in favour of beef...But in fact, cottage pie is a much older term than shepherd's pie, which does not crop up until the 1870s; on 29 August 1791 we find that enthusiastic recorder of all his meals, the Reverend James Woodford, noting in his diary Dinner to day, Cottage-Pye and rost Beef' (it is not clear precisely what he meant by cottage pie, however)."
---An A to Z of Food and Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 92)
Enjoy it with some Green Beer if you like.