Shepherd’s Pie

So this week there were going to be a couple of nights where the husband was going to be fending for himself for dinner. I wanted to make him something hearty and tasty so he wouldn’t mind eating alone, or be tempted to hit a fast food joint on the way home. Thanks to a barter with a friend over some sewing projects, I happened to have a freezerfull of venison (talk about free-range and local! lol) and a bag of potatoes that needed finishing. Meat and potatoes? Easy re-heating? Something husband loves?
You guessed it, it was time to make a shepherd’s pie.

Here’s the recipe: (it’s loosely based on this recipe from Alton Brown, with some adjustments for my pantry)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Mashed Potatoes:
I’m not going to put a recipe here, because everyone likes them made a little differently. I make mine by boiling diced potatoes in salted water with the skins on, draining them and mashing till they’re still ever so slightly lumpy. Then I add equal parts butter and sour cream, just until it looks creamy enough, then salt and pepper to taste.

For the “Pie” filling:
First, I diced a medium sized Spanish onion into little pieces, and sauteed it olive oil with about a tablespoon of garlic until the onion pieces just started to get translucent.

Next, I added a pound of ground venison. If you’re using venison instead of the traditional lamb, or ground beef, you will probably need to add some sort of extra fat. I used olive oil, roughly two more tablespoons. The amount will vary depending on the particular batch of meat, you just want it to stay moist and brown instead of burning.

Add roughly a teaspoon each of salt and freshly ground pepper and brown over medium heat until it’s, well, brown.

Next, sprinkle the meat mixture with a couple tablespoons of flour and stir to coat it. (Alton’s a genius. This keeps the “gravy” from getting lumpy. New trick learned!)

Then, I added a rather ripe tomato, peeled and smooshed. (The original recipe calls for tomato paste.)
Also, I added a cup of chicken broth, a couple tablespoons of worcestershire sauce and some herbs. I used sage and rosemary, roughly a tablespoon of each, freshly chopped. (The original recipe called for Thyme and Rosemary, just so you know)

You’ll stir all of this, then bring it to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer. I let it simmer for about 10 minutes, it’s done when the sauce has thickened up.

Next, I added roughly 1/2 cup each of thawed frozen corn and peas to the venison and spread it evenly into an 11 by 7-inch glass baking dish. The mashed potatoes went on top like frosting. Be sure you make a nice seal around the edges with the potatoes, you don’t want the meat mix to bubble up and spill all into the bottom of your oven!

If you’re eating this right away, you’ll want Alton’s cooking directions:
Place on a parchment lined half sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Since I was making this for him to heat up later, I put it in the fridge and left him this note:
Preheat oven to 375, bake me for about 45 minutes to an hour, until the middle is hot and the potatoes are browned.


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