Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fabulous Fall Foods #SundaySupper...Featuring Streamlined Weeknight Shepherd's Pie

This week, our #SundaySupper group is sharing Fabulous Fall Foods. Our host for this week's event is Coleen of The Redhead Baker, with help from co-host Conni of The Foodie Army Wife. While Fall has already arrived in many parts of the country, Texas hasn't quite gotten the memo. After a brief respite from the Summer-like heat last weekend, we've been in the 90s most of the past week. My hope was that by making a comforting Fall-inspired dinner -- maybe I could hasten Fall's arrival here just a bit! To me, Fall means cooler weather and a return to comfort classics. I've always wanted to make shepherd's pie, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. What's not to like about a hearty beef and veggie base topped with creamy mashed potatoes? 

I wanted to make a streamlined version of shepherd's pie that could be whipped up on busy weeknights. My Streamlined Weeknight Shepherd's Pie tastes like it's been cooking for hours, but it's ready in about 45 minutes -- most of which is hands-off time! I used pre-chopped veggies and refrigerated ready-cooked mashed potatoes from the grocery store. If you prefer, you can also use leftover mashed potatoes -- or even good-quality instant mashed potatoes. Since shepherd's pie reminds me a bit of a pot pie, I cooked my shepherd's pies in four individual 2-cup ramekins. However, you can also layer everything in a 2-quart casserole or 9x9 square baker instead.

Streamlined Weeknight Shepherd's Pie
a Weekend Gourmet Original inspired by numerous recipes

Ingredients (4 ramekins or one 9x9 baking pan):
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef (I used 93% lean)
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 tbs. chopped parsley
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 3/4 cup chopped carrot (approx. 1 medium carrot)
  • 1.5 cups chopped mushrooms
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 2 tbs. tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 cups beef stock
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • Topping: 3 cups mashed potatoes (leftover, instant, or refrigerated ready-to-use), Cajun seasoning, and parsley
Step 1: Add the olive oil to a large skillet on med-high heat. Add the ground beef, garlic, parsley, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt & pepper. Cook, breaking up the meat, until it begins to brown. Add the carrots, celery, and onion. Cook, stirring often, until the meat is browned and the veggies begin to soften -- about 5 minutes. Add the wine and Worcestershire sauce. Reduce heat to medium and stir until the tomato paste evenly coats the meat and veggies.
Step 2: Add the corn and mushrooms to the meat mixture and stir well to combine. Sprinkle the flour on top of the mixture and stir well to evenly incorporate. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the beef broth and stir well to completely combine all the ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to med-low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes -- this allows the carrots to cook properly. Remove lid and cook for 5 additional minutes, allowing the mixture to thicken and reduce.
Step 3:  Preheat oven to 375. Evenly divide the beef and veggie filling between four 2-cup ramekins. Top each ramekin with 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese. Spoon 3/4 cup mashed potatoes over the cheddar on each ramekin, using a spoon to spread the potatoes evenly on top. Use the tines of a fork to place crosshatches down, then across on the top of the potatoes. This allows for nooks and crannies that crisp and brown. Sprinkle the tops of each ramekin with Cajun seasoning and parsley.
Step 4: Place the ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the potatoes are golden and crispy on top. Carefully place each pie on a plate and let cool about 5 minutes before serving. Be very careful when eating, as the filling can remain very hot for several minutes! This dish is a complete meal, but a crisp green salad also makes a nice pairing.
Sigh...this dish tastes just like Fall! It's comforting and bursting with flavor. The beef and veggie mixture has complex flavors thanks to the wine, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce in the sauce. The mashed potatoes are creamy, with crispy bits on top...and the surprise layer of melted cheddar ties it all together. Now that I've finally made shepherd's pie, I can't wait to make it again during the upcoming cool-weather season!

Wait until you see all of the amazing Fall-inspired recipes that the rest of the #SundaySupper bloggers are sharing today. We've got everything from main desserts. I know you're going to find something that you'll want to make for your family this week! 

Appetizers and Drinks
Soups, Stews, Chili, and Casseroles
Salads and Side Dishes
Main Dishes
Desserts and Baked Goods
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1 comment:

  1. Bill loves shepherd's pie...and I appreciate your shortcuts! We'd BOTH love this for dinner!


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