Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Beef & Veggie Sheperd's Pie with Mushroom Onion Gravy

I never was a fan of Sheperd's Pie.
It was something to do with the texture... and the ugliness.
Until I was inspired by the Sunny Anderson Food Network show where she made a spicy version with a layer of veggies and an onion & mushroom red wine gravy! Oh yeah.
I was hooked, I wanted to try it. These veggies add some needed texture, some healthy vitamins and some great flavors from the spicy smoked paprika.  This pie now has it all, spicy veggies, flavorful meat, creamy potatoes and a delicious mushroom onion gravy.  Now, I am a fan.

I do like potatoes, but I'm not the biggest fan of mashed potatoes. Well, maybe I'm not a fan of peeling, chopping, cooking and mashing scalding hot potatoes. Whew, I feel hot just thinking about it. Of all the things my Mom made, homemade mashed potatoes was not one of them. She always used instant, and frankly, I agree. I am not sure that the end result warrants all that extra work.

I do something very naughty at Thanksgiving every year, I threaten to make instant for the feast. My husband and son, both potato loving fanatics, immediately offer to do all the work; peeling, cooking, mashing. If they read this, then I guess my secret is out... but I can still serve instant and they'd never allow that, so it's a win-win situation, huh?

The instant potatoes I purchased at Costco the other day are tremendous... I mean, really, really good! I am so glad I got them.  Look for them, you will want these. Honest Earth All Natural Potatoes.... can't go wrong with that!

(Not shown: red wine, chives, milk)

Serves 8

Meat Layer:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
1/2 cup low-sodium beef stock
1/2 large onion, finely chopped

Veggie Layer:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 red bell pepper, diced
1-2 leeks, white part only, cut in half, then sliced
2 zucchini, diced
2 carrots, diced
1-2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Potato Layer:
5-6 cups mashed potatoes (thick texture, not too runny)
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 egg, well beaten
1-2 Tbsp chives or parsley (optional)

Mushroom Onion Gravy:
1/2 large onion, chopped
8 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup red wine
2 cups beef broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large pan on medium-high heat, saute the chopped onions in the olive oil and cook for 2-3 minutes until starting to get limp. Add beef, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper and salt and pepper, to taste, and cook until meat is brown. Stir in tomato paste and saute for a few minutes. Season and remove mixture the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish, pressing down with a spatula to pack it in.

In the same pan that you used to cook the meat, add the butter and oil and saute the carrots for 4-5 minutes then add red bell pepper, leeks, zucchini and paprika. Cook for 5-6 more minutes, and add salt to your liking.   Add the veggie layer to the 9x13 pan of meat.  Pack down layer again.
NOTE: There is no need for the veggies to be completely cooked, they will continue to cook when the layered dish is in the oven.

Mix the warm mashed potatoes with the softened cream cheese and the beaten egg.  Add chives or parsley, if using.  Spread on top of the veggie mixture.

Bake for 30 minutes or until edges on potatoes turn golden brown. Serve with Mushroom Onion Gravy.

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