There is nothing more comforting to me than good ol’ fashioned comfort foods. For each person, “comfort food” means something different. Growing up in an English/Irish home, I grew up with classics such as Shepherd’s Pie. If you don’t know what that is, I’d say you don’t know what you’re missing — and should explain that it was originally created to use up leftovers. It’s typically a layer of meat with vegetables atop that, coated in a layer of mashed potatoes.
My family makes it from scratch; nevermind the leftovers. It’s a meal into itself these days, and one that always reminds me of my childhood. Here’s how I make mine.
- 1.5-2 C beef broth
- 1/3 C finely chopped onions
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 2 lbs lean ground beef
- 2-3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
- freshly cracked black pepper
- 1-2 pinches salt
- 2-3 Tbsp flour added to some milk (into a slurry)
- 1 C frozen peas
- 1 C frozen corn niblets
- 3/4 lb russet potatoes, peeled, washed, cubed, boiled & drained
- light cream
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- parmesan cheese
- salt & pepper to taste
Make the meat mixture:
- In a large sauce pan over a medium heat, bring beef broth to a gentle boil and add the onions and garlic. Cook for a few minutes to infuse the flavours together.
- Add the ground beef and work on crumbling it as it slowly cooks in the broth.
- Once the beef is no longer pink and there’s a fair amount of liquid in the pot, raise the temperature a bit, add the Worcestershire sauce, pepper and salt, then slowly add the slurry as it begins to boil. Let it thicken a bit into a meat and gravy mixture, then remove from heat and pour the entire mixture into the bottom of a casserole pan. If there is too much liquid, drain a bit from the pot first.
- Pour the peas evenly over the meat mixture, then repeat with the corn.
Make the potatoes & rest of the dish:
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- In the pot you boiled the potatoes in, add the potatoes, some butter and cream (or milk). Begin to mash them. Add some parmesan cheese (fresh is best), garlic, and a few pinches of salt. If the potatoes have sat and cooled, heat over a low heat while working on the mashing. Be careful not to over-mash your potatoes or they can become glue-like.
- Once satisfied with your potatoes, begin to spoon this over the meat and vegetables in the casserole dish, spreading carefully to cover the entire top of the pie.
- Run a fork through the top in cross-hatching patterns. This will help the potatoes to crisp up.
- Sprinkle more shredded parmesan cheese over the top of the pie and dot with a few knobs of butter (to help it brown up). Sprinkle some pepper over the top.
- Cook for 25-28 minutes or until the potatoes get a little crispy on top and a slightly golden hue.