Shepherd’s Pie. But not for Vi.

Img_6099Shepherd’s pie. Such a bucolic name, as if of some forgotten nursery rhyme. Such a more romantic winter use of ground beef than plain old hamburgers or, for that matter, meat loaf. Such promise. Little Bo Beep and all that. What kid wouldn’t love this?

My kids. What gives? Are their palates shutting down? Am I a lousy cook? Have I lost my mojo? I swear I did everything to make this as delicious as possible: I cooked a full 4 ounces of pancetta to give it that porky foundation. I mixed 2 cups of cheese into the mashed yukon top. I seasoned it at every turn. I cooked it until it was all browned and bubbly. And it was rejected by both Des and Vi!

You’ll probably like this. But my kids hated it.

Shepherd’s Pie
The trick to this dish (as with many) is pushing the caramelization on the mirepoix (fancy name for onion, carrots, and celery) and salting it enough at the start. The frozen peas are completely unecessary but nothing says British-ish cooking better than pallid peas. It’s a homey old school touch.

half a white onion, finely diced
1 piece celery, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 pound ground beef
4 ounces pancetta
1 cup grated cheese
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup beef stock
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons flour
pinch red pepper flakes
6 or so biggish yukon gold potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed

boil the potatoes until tender, cut up, and mash with a little milk, salt, pepper, and 1 cup of grated cheese (cheddar, quattro formaggio, or parmesan) and fresh herb like thyme or rosemary

heat olive oil on high heat, sautee beef , breaking up, season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes until browned, set aside in bowl

sautee onion, celery, carrot, garlic, with salt and pepper until caramelized.

add butter and flour and sauutee until cooked through (that’s a roux)

return beef to pan, stir
add quarter cup beef stock, which should thicken as it comes to a boil (that’s the magic of the roux)

add the wine and continue simmering until it reduces and thickens up a bit

pour the mixture into oven proof dish

spoon mashed potatoes over, and bake in 400 degree oven until heated through and top begins to brown, about 20 minutes.

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5 Responses to Shepherd’s Pie. But not for Vi.

  1. Jenn says:

    This looks wonderful. But I notice that the ingredients list includes red wine which is not mentioned in the directions. The directions include 1/2 cup beef stock which is not included in the ingredients list.

  2. Jenny says:

    My kids love our version of sheppard’s pie, which is ground beef, not lamb, and uses creamed corn instead of peas. I’d skip the pancetta, use the onions and garlic, add a bit of worchestershire sauce, and keep the potatoes simple. That’s how I make it and my kids devour it! I have a feeling they would snub their nose at yours (sorry!) though I’d probably like it.

  3. Hugh says:

    Jenn: Thanks for the good catch. I’ve corrected and clarified the recipe.
    Jenny: Indeed, much of the time simpler is better.

  4. Brandon says:

    I too thought sheperd’s pie (the incorrect, beef-based version because I’m American and didn’t know any better until I read the clarification) would be a complete, slam-dunk at my house. Naturally it wasn’t, even though my husband and I scraped the dish clean. What gives with these kids today? I remember a lot of ground beef in my childhood and none of it involved the lavish attention I bestow upon my meatballs, my tacos from scratch, or even my hamburgers (although my oldest daughter did begin to eat hamburgers this past year–she’s eleven). As you noted, simpler may be better, but I have to eat these meals too (I’m not a short order cook) and I will continue to pursue (in vain?) the happy medium that makes everyone, if not happy, at least adequately fed.

  5. Sarah Bennett says:

    Ummm, really great recipe but being a picky Englishwoman, thought I should mention that Shepherd’s Pie is made with ground lamb and Cottage Pie is made with ground beef.

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