How beautiful is the concept of shepherd's pie? Meat, gravy, and some vegetables topped with mashed potatoes. Pretty amazing, right? I've been thinking about making shepherd's pie for quite awhile, and then my November, 2012 issue of Cook's Illustrated arrived in my mailbox. Shepherd's pie. Right there. Had to try it.
Cook's Illustrated is pretty amazing in how they vet recipes. So detailed. Pretty foolproof. Seriously consider subscribing. I get the magazine and I subscribe online. AND I have many of their cookbooks. I'm out of control.
This shepherd's pie is made in a 10 inch oven and broiler safe skillet. Do not use a nonstick pan. You will also need a medium saucepan to make the potatoes.
1 1/2 pounds of 93% lean ground beef
2 T plus 2 tsp water
Salt and pepper
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch square pieces
4 T melted unsalted butter
1/2 C milk
1 egg yolk
8 thinly sliced scallions
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
4 ounces chopped white mushrooms
1 T tomato paste
2 minced garlic cloves
2 T ruby port wine
2 T all purpose flour
1 1/4 C beef broth
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tsp cornstarch
- Toss the ground beef with 2 T of the water, 1 tsp of salt, 1/4 tsp of pepper, and the baking soda in a bowl. Let it all sit for 20 minutes.
- In a saucepan, add the potatoes, cover with water, add 1 T of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and for 8 to 10 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
- Drain the potatoes and return them to the pan.
- Cook over low heat until the moisture has evaporated, approximately one minute.
- Remove the pan from the heat, mash the potatoes with a potato masher. Stir in the butter.
- Whisk the milk and egg yolk together and add the mixture to the potatoes. Add the scallions and add salt and pepper to taste. Cover until you are ready to top the dish.
- Heat the oil in a oven/broiler safe 10-inch skillet until fully heated.
- Add the onion, mushrooms, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. The vegetables should begin to soften, and there should be brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
- Add the tomato paste and the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. The bottom of the pan should be dark brown.
- Add the port and continue to cook, scraping up the dark brown bits from the pan. Continue to cook for about a minute, until the wine has evaporated.
- Add the flour and cook for about a minute, stirring.
- Add the broth, Worcestershire sauce, thyme sprigs, bay leaf, and the carrots.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Reduce the heat to medium low and add the beef in 2 inch chunks and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, breaking up the meat chunks halfway through.
- Mix the cornstarch and 2 tsp water in a small bowl and add it to the mixture and simmer for 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
- Remove the thyme and the bay leaf and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Place an oven rack 5 inches from the broiler and heat the oven on broil. (See note below)
- Place the mashed potatoes in a large plastic bag and cut one corner to create a one inch hole.
- Pipe the potatoes on top of the filling to completely cover the mixture. Smooth out the potatoes with a spatula or the back of a large spoon. Make ridges on the surface with a fork.
- Put the skillet on a rimmed baking sheet and broil for about 15 minutes. The potatoes should develop a golden crust and the filling should be bubbling. (Note: as you can see, my potatoes are more than golden. If you don't want them this dark, move the oven rack to a lower position)
- Allow to cool and set for about 10 minutes before serving.
- Garnish with more scallions or parsley.