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Shepherd’s Pie

Summers in Tennessee are really, really hot, and while I don’t mind the high temperatures, I’m always happy for fall to roll around, as it gives me a reason to start making my favorite hearty cool-weather meals again. And one of my favorite fall + winter dinners? Shepherd’s Pie. With its delicious combination of meat, herbs + vegetables in a tomato/wine sauce, topped with creamy, rich mashed potatoes, it is pure, simple comfort food.

A couple tips – First, use fresh herbs if you have them handy! They lend a beautiful bright, vibrant flavor to the pie. If you want to substitute dried herbs instead, reduce the amounts slightly (as dried herbs are more potent than their fresh counterparts). Meat-wise, I always think of lamb as the traditional meat for shepherd’s pie, but you can certainly substitute beef if you prefer – I’ve made it both ways, and both are truly delicious. And finally, if you’re wanting to save a few calories, you can substitute skim milk for the cream in the mashed potatoes, + reduce or omit the cheddar on top. It won’t be *quite* as decadent, but it will still taste fabulous! =)

However you tweak this recipe to make it perfect for you and your family, I know you are going to love it!

Shepherd’s Pie

makes about 6 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 carrots, peeled + diced
1 pound ground lamb (or substitute beef, if you prefer)
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
1 teaspoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
2 cups frozen peas
2 pounds potatoes (russets or yukon golds are my preferred potatoes for this recipe)
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
fresh pepper + kosher salt to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat, then add the onion, + carrots. Saute until the onions are translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Add the meat + cook until browned, 8-10 minutes.

Drain any fat + add broth, wine, tomato paste, + herbs. Simmer until the juices thicken, about 10 minutes, then add the peas. Add salt + pepper to taste. Pour the mixture into a 1 1/2 quart baking dish + set aside.

Meanwhile, peel + chop the potatoes. Put them in a pot, cover them with cold salted water, + bring to a boil. Cook for about 20 minutes, until fork-tender. Drain.

Mash the potatoes with the butter, cream/milk, + salt + pepper to taste. For extra creaminess, use a food mill/potato ricer or beat with an electric mixer.

Spread the potatoes over the meat mixture, top with cheddar cheese, + bake until golden, about 30 minutes. If you prefer an extra-browned pie, broil on high for an additional 3 minutes.