Monday, March 5, 2012

Rich Man's Shepherd's Pie

Bubbly cheese makes everything delicious. True story.

In celebration of Pi day, and impending St.Patrick's Day, I whipped up a more fancy version of an old family favorite. My family always called it shepherd's pie, but my very Irish husband's family calls it cottage pie. Either way, this version is made with upgrades! My family loves it, especially the kids. I like to serve it with some fresh broccoli or a salad, and rolls. 

Use coupons to make this cheap!
all purpose flour, 8 Tablespoons
1 lb Stew Beef
2 Tbsp butter or oil
1/2 cup Beef broth
6 oz tomato paste
salt and pepper
2 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp rubbed sage (optional)
1 Tbsp worchestershire sauce
au gratin potatos in a box
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
button mushrooms, canned or fresh (optional), sliced

Use a nice sharp knife and chop your onion, garlic and carrots. Thinly slice your mushrooms, if you chose to add them. 
oh wow it smells soooo gooood!
1. Melt 2 Tbsp (1/4 stick) butter into your frying pan. Sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat for about 8-10 minutes, or until soft.  Add chopped carrots.
Floured beef, in the skillet ready to brown.
2. While your vegetables sauté, coat your stew beef lightly in flour. Add a few chunks at a time, give a light shake, remove from bag. Add the beef to the pan, and brown until no longer pink. Salt and pepper to your taste. 
Not much gravy, just how I like it for the pie.
3. Add the worchestershire sauce, beef broth tomato paste and herbs. Simmer uncovered over medium-low heat for around 10 minutes or until the gravy as cooked in to the beef as much as you like. Some people like it a little more moist, but I like it a little more dry. Add in the peas and simmer until they are heated through. 

4. While that simmers, prepare your au gratin potatos according to the stovetop directions, and heat your oven to 400 degress F.

Carrots supposedly help you see in the dark. Or so my dad always told me. I am suspicious of this...

5. Add the stew like mixture to a baking dish. Make sure to remove the bay leaves and throw them away.

6. Layer the au gratin potatoes over the beef mixture, and pour any cheese sauce in the pan over the top.

Sprinkle extra cheese on top if you want. No one is looking, go ahead. I won't tell.  
Golden brown!
7. Cook at 400 degrees F. for 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the pie is bubbly.

Serves approx. 6 people.  Or 4 very big eaters, or perhaps 8 reasonable eaters who also like salad. 
It tastes like a grown up version of my childhood favorite!
This recipe is great for making ahead and freezing, will last up to 2 months in the freezer. If freezing, do not add the potatoes until ready to serve. Potatoes can get grainy in the freezer. For once a month cooking, just make a big batch of stew and before you add the potatoes, set some aside in a freezer safe baking dish, cool and freeze!