Happy holidays! It’s that time of the year, when calories don’t count and we stuff our faces at everyone’s family table and reign in the new year in a food coma. Ok, let’s face it, calories never count in my kitchen the way that they should. So today I’m sharing with you a decadent dinner, but individually portioned so you have room for other goodies. Or so it’s less obvious when you go in for seconds. “Oh, you didn’t get one? I’m so sorry, here! Eat up!”
This is slightly adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe (who else?). The list of ingredients may look intimidating, but it’s really not bad: mashed potatoes that you put on top of a bunch of chopped up veggies and beef (or lamb). And it’s also easy to substitute ingredients based on what you have on hand. It might not be a true shepherd’s pie then, but who cares. It still tastes damn good.
4-5 large potatoes (I used russet)
2/3 cup milk (I use almond or Dairy Ease, but buttermilk and half and half are ideal if your tummy can take it)
3-4 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 cup chopped onion
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound chopped bacon, or turkey bacon (optional, I had some leftover and threw it in, it really adds great flavor)
3 tablespoons rice flour
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 cup chicken, beef or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup fresh or frozen English peas
6-8 ramekins or small glass baking dishes (or you can make it one casserole dish)
Peel and dice the potatoes into large chunks, then put them in a pot of cold, salted water on the stovetop, set to high. Bring to a boil then reduce to a “rolling” boil (never really understood that one), for about 15 minutes, until they easily give when pierced with a fork. Drain and set aside.
Heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a skillet and sauté the onions and carrots on medium heat until soft, then add your beef (and bacon, if using and if uncooked) just until browned. Add the flour, stirring to coat, then the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, broth, and herbs. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmering, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. (Side note, we’re making garlic mashed potatoes, but if you prefer to be less heavy on the garlic, you can mince and sauté 2 cloves with your meat instead, or in addition to if you love garlic like me.)
Meanwhile (do you hear cartoon sound effects when you say that word like I do?), in a small sauce pan heat up the 2/3 cup of whatever milk with the smashed garlic until simmering but not boiling, and add it to your cooled potatoes. Stir and smash until well combined, adding butter or more milk if needed, and salt and pepper to taste.
When your meat filling has thickened and cooked through, add the corn and peas and turn off the heat (if your bacon was already cooked this is when you add it as well).
Lightly grease your ramekins/glass dishes/casserole dish, scoop in the meat mixture to fill your thingamajigs about 3/4 of the way, then top with mashed potatoes and smooth the tops to the edges. Place them on a sheet pan (they’ll bubble and ooze deliciousness) and place in the oven for about 20 minutes.
Remove, let cool (they’ll burn your mouth knucklehead, but you can eat some leftover mashed potatoes while waiting), and noms!