I have another confession today: I can't stand making mashed potatoes.
I don't know what it is; mashed potatoes are such an innocent food! Maybe it's the peeling and chopping. And for some reason, it's always tricky for me to tell when the potatoes are cooked through. Plus the whole mashing thing. I like my potatoes kind of lumpy, but that's not popular with mashed potato connoisseurs. So outside Thanksgiving, we don't eat too many potatoes of the mashed variety at my house.
Now that we've established my distaste for mashing potatoes, I have to tell you what I loooove: Shepherd's Pie. You know what Shepherd's Pie requires? Yup, mashing stupid potatoes. Bugger.
A hankering for Shepherd's Pie recently drove me to desperate measures:
Ye gads! I bought mashed potatoes from the refrigerated foods section at the grocery store! My father the Irishman would be ashamed. Don't tell him.
When you make your Shepherd's Pie, feel free to mash your own potatoes. But if you buy potatoes pre-mashed, I won't judge.
Adapted from Real Simple
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup peeled and sliced carrots
Salt and pepper
1.5 pounds ground beef (I used ground sirloin.)
1/4 cup tomato paste
1.5 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1.5 cups frozen peas
5 cups mashed potatoes*
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a 10" high-sided, oven-safe skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium high. Add onion and carrots. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 6 minutes, until vegetables are beginning to soften. Transfer to a separate bowl.
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the skillet. Add the beef and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring often to break up the beef, about 8 minutes, until meat is no longer pink. Drain the grease from the skillet. Stir in tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce. Sprinkle in flour and cook, stirring, for one minute to cook off the raw taste of the flour.
Stir in broth, scraping the bottom of the pan to incorporate the flavor bits that have accumulated there into the sauce. Add peas and cooked onions and carrots. Bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat.
Spoon mashed potatoes on top of the meat and vegetable mixture in your skillet. Bake 40-45 minutes, until filling is bubbling and potatoes are lightly browned. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
(If you would like to make two smaller Shepherd's Pies like I did, simply transfer the meat and vegetable mixture into two (or three or four or twelve) smaller oven-safe dishes and top with mashed potatoes. Cook until filling is bubbling and warmed through.)
* If you're a better person than me and decide to mash your own potatoes, Real Simple suggests the following:
3 pounds potatoes (I like to use Yukon Gold when I do mash my own.)
Salt and pepper
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter
Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and add 1 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-18 minutes, until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife. Drain and return potatoes to the warm pot. Add milk, butter, and salt and pepper to taste. Mash potatoes.