When I think of comfort food, I think about pasta, cheese and soup. This is to be expected, but I also think about the feelings these foods can provoke. They’re called comfort foods for a reason, so of course they bring a sense of comfort and security.
Along with these feelings also come memories. Chicken and dumplings transports me back to being just above eye level with the counter in my grandmas chicken as I cut the dough into strips for her to drop in the hot broth. Chili makes me think of chopping firewood with my sisters and Dad in the middle of winter. Spaghetti puts me right back at my other grandma’s kitchen table as I watch her douse the boiling water with salt.
Shepherd’s Pie isn’t a dish I grew up eating, but it always sounded cozy to me, probably because the word “pie” was in the title. So I only have two memories of it. The first was the one time I decided to make it when I was younger. It was nothing more than ground beef covered with a layer of the blandest potatoes ever then taken out of the oven while they were the same color.
The other memory is when my family and I visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. To say we were tired and hungry after a day on our feet at Disney World is an understatement, so we plopped down at The Three Broomsticks. My sisters and I were dying at the fact that we were eating there (we love HP). The rents couldn’t have cared less. Dad ordered Shepherd’s Pie.
That’s it. Those are the only two run ins I’ve ever had with the stuff. Not much, but I decided it definitely qualifies as a comfort food and it should definitely be on this blog.
I hope that this recipe, should you decide to try it, brings back some of those memories for you that certain foods brings back for me.
So let’s talk about the recipe and ingredients themselves.
I’ll be the first to admit that there’s a ton of items you’ll need to make this. But beef and potatoes need just a bit of help when it comes to flavor…
Rich, creamy potatoes are completely necessary for this dish. I made mine a bit thin because some of that moisture is going to come out in the oven. To make them even more decadent, try adding some cream cheese.
Feel free to add any kind of seasonings you want into the meat mixture, and don’t be afraid with them either. Ground beef is rather bland on its own, which is why I created a gravy.
It’s a pretty simple gravy. And it’ll be thin, but that’s okay.
So give it a try and let me know how it turns out.
For the mashed potatoes:
- 6 russet potatoes, peeled
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1/4 salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper (I like a lot of pepper in my potatoes. Tone it down if you want)
- 1 tablespoon butter
For the meat mixture:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced the same size as onions
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 15oz can corn
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 1 bay leaf
For the gravy:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons flour
- 2 cups water
- 3 beef bouillon cubes
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
- In a large skillet over medium to medium high heat, cook beef about 15 minutes, breaking up the big chunks. Drain and pour beef into casserole dish.
- Peel and quarter potatoes and place in a large pot with just enough water to cover them. Add salt and boil about 20 minutes, or until fork tender. Drain and set aside.
- While the potatoes are cooking, return the beef skillet back to stove and melt butter over medium heat. Add carrots, onions, bay leaf and seasonings. Cook till onions are translucent and carrots begin to soften, about 25 minutes. Add peas and corn to heat through.
- For the gravy, melt butter and add flour in a small saucepan. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then drop in bouillon cubes and pour in water. Whisk till the gravy thickens and the cubes have dissolved. Add Worcestershire and pour into vegetable mixture along with the beef.
- Add sour cream, milk, salt, pepper and butter into potatoes and beat with a hand mixture till smooth. Adjust seasoning if needed.
- Pour meat mixture into bottom of a casserole dish. Carefully spoon potatoes on top, covering all of the meat.
- Bake uncovered for about 15-20 minutes until potatoes have browned.