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Last week the food editor at Bon Appetite wrote that she did not want Shepherd’s pie; she wanted persimmons. I was feeling all confident and smug about what I was going to write about this week, until I read that.

How can she NOT want a Shepherd’s pie this time of year? Apparently, she does not live in the north where we crave rich belly-filling dishes like Shepard’s pie. 

Right before I read her blurb, I had just spent 10 minutes watching a YouTube video my mother sent me about Shepherd’s pie. Shepard’s pie is relatively new to me. I did not grow up eating it until a few years ago when Mom became obsessed with it. My father hated hot-dishes. He didn’t think food should be combined. 

My mom has relentlessly searched for the perfect Shepherd’s pie. She’s even ordered packets of spice mixes from Ireland to get the perfect flavor profile. The key to a perfect Shepherd’s pie is to let the meat simmer and cook with the spices and onion before you top it with jazzed up the mashed potatoes with butter and 3 cheeses. Simmering the meat makes it ultra-tender so it will melt in your mouth. Adding cheese and butter to the potatoes creates a tasty rich crust. 

This recipe is adapted from the video and it’s fairly simple. A good Shepherd’s pie can’t be rushed. Using the freshest ingredients will make this pie a family hit. 

Shepherd’s Pie

Adapted from PhillyBoyJay

Serves 8

2 lbs. ground beef

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp paprika

½ tsp thyme 

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

4 Tbsp. ketchup

1—10-12 oz. beef bouillon (liquid) 

1 cup water

1/3 cup flour

2 carrots, chopped

½ cup of peas

Topping

6 large Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed

2 Tbsp. butter

4 oz cream cheese

½ cup whole milk

1 tsp salt

¼ cup Parmesan cheese

½ cup cheddar cheese

1 egg yolk

½ tsp paprika

1 tsp parsley 

In a large Dutch oven, brown the ground beef for 5 minutes. Add onion and garlic and continue to cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the salt, pepper, thyme paprika, Worcestershire, and ketchup; simmer on low and continue to stir frequently. 

In a medium size bowl, combine the bouillon liquid, water, and flour and add to simmering meat and cook for 15- 20 minutes on low, covered, stirring frequently, until thickened. Add the vegetables; simmer 2-3 minutes. Pour into a large 9 X 13 baking dish and spread to edges of the pan. 

In a large saucepan, cover potatoes with cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes until tender. Drain. With a hand mixer, briefly mix potatoes until broken apart, but not completely mashed. Add cheeses, salt, milk, and egg yolk. Mix on low just until combined. Do not over mix. Spoon mashed potatoes over meat mixture, being careful to not mix into the meat. Use a knife or off-set spatula to spread potatoes over the top. Sprinkle the paprika and parsley flakes over the top. Bake for 30 minutes.

Lisa Erickson is a food columnist who loves adventure and food. You can find more recipes at www.wild-chow.com or email her at wildchowrecipes@gmail.com.

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