When Neville's parents were married, they quickly immigrated to the UK before coming to the US. Neville and his brothers were all born in London. There is a definite British influence in their family and their family culture.
Shepard's Pie is a classic British dish. It combines ground meat (lamb for Shepard's Pie; beef for Cottage Pie, or even turkey for those red-meat adverse) with a "crust" of mashed potatoes. Because of the cheese lovers in my house, I also add a top layer of cheese - but a traditional recipe doesn't call for cheese. That's purely an American touch.
With the weather change to colder climates, I'm thrilled to be able to turn on my oven again. I love me a casserole. Any kind. Tuna Noodle. Chicken and Rice. Frittata. Quiche. It's all yummy to me. There is magic in the oven, I'm convinced.
I slow-cook the meat in the oven at a low temperature. If you don't have the time, you can cook the meat on the stove while you boil the potatoes. Another option would be to make and assemble the casserole the night before (or on a weekend), refrigerate, and then finish in the oven the night of dinner in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. I've done it that before many times and it comes out just as delish.
- 1 1/2 pounds ground meat (take your pick: lamb, beef, turkey, or a combination)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 celery rib, chopped
- 2 tbsp mustard
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 6 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
- milk and butter (for your mashed potatoes)
- salt and pepper (to season to taste)
- 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese (optional)
Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. In your baking dish (I use a small 8x8 ceramic dish), add the meat, onion, carrots, celery, mustard, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and a dash of pepper. Mix the ingredients well with your hands. Bake in the oven for 2 hours, pulling out half way through to mix up the ground meat. Remove from oven and mix up the mixture once more. Season to taste. Add the frozen peas. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees.
Meanwhile, boil your potatoes until cooked through (a fork or pairing knife should pierce through with ease). Drain the water. Mash the potatoes (I use a hand mixer to make it easy). Add milk, butter, salt, and pepper until creamy and well seasoned.
Layer the mashed potatoes on top of the cooked meat mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Return to oven. Bake for 15-25 minutes, until the cheese is melted and golden brown. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving (it will be piping hot).