Making in the Kitchen: Jason’s Shepherd’s Pie
I’m going to bless you with another recipe from my brother-in-law, Jason. This is the best shepherd’s pie I have ever had. But I will warn you now: This is not one of those fast 4-ingredient recipes. You will spend some time in your kitchen preparing the filling and topping separately. But if you have fresh veggies from the farmer’s market or garden (like I do) you’ll be thrilled to use them up in a dish like this. This is a great dish for entertaining. You can make it in advance and bake later. Or you could always freeze it for a later date… like after the baby arrives when you won’t have time for cooking Jason’s Shepherd’s Pie!
What You will need:
- 1 medium-sized butternut squash, halved lengthwise, seeded, pared and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 3 large baking potatoes, pared and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 4 T. unsalted butter
- 1/2 heavy cream
- 1/4 c. milk
- 1-1/2 t. salt
- 1/4 t. pepper
- 1/4 t. ground nutmeg
- 1/8 t. ground hot red pepper
- 1 egg
- 2 T. vegetable oil
- 3 medium onions, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 lb. lean ground beef
- 1 T. basil leaf
- 1 T. oregano
- 1 t. ground cumin
- 1 t. salt
- 1/2 t. thyme leaf
- 1/4 t. pepper
- 2 T. flour
- 1 28 oz. can Italian-style plum tomatoes, drained and cut
- 1 lb. green beans, cut into 1-inch lengths
There are different ways you can attack the topping. Jason’s recipe says to cut up both your squash and potatoes into pieces and boil them together in a large pot until tender. Then you drain them and add the butter, cream, milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg and red pepper. Mash till fluffy. Reserve the egg and paprika. The only thing I did differently was to bake my squash instead of cutting it raw. (Have you ever cut up a raw butternut squash? I’m always afraid I’ll chop a finger off.) Baking the squash first yields the same results. If you want to do it this way, slice your squash in half length-wise, flip it upside down (skin side up) onto a greased pan, and bake it at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes or until tender. (I sprinkled salt and pepper on mine before baking, also.) Then scoop the squash out and add it to your potatoes when it’s time to mix in the seasonings.
Now your topping is done!
To begin the filling, heat up your oil in the skillet (I used olive oil.) Add your onions and saute till tender. I also added diced carrots. Add your minced garlic and cook one more minute. Remove from pan. Then cook your beef in the same skillet until browned. Add your onion mixture, basil, oregano, cumin, salt, thyme, pepper and flour. Mix together. Then add the tomatoes and beans. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. I used fresh diced tomatoes instead of canned, and peas instead of beans. That’s what’s great about this casserole. You can really add or omit any veggies you want and make it your own. I’ve also made it without the beef to make it vegetarian and it turned out great.
Spray your 9 x 13 dish. I’m using this lovely foil version because I’m freezing it for later and running out of dishes. Pour your filling right in there.
Next, beat the egg into your potato/squash mixture and spread it over your filling. I like to make pretty swirls like icing. Sprinkle it with paprika and bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 40 minutes, or until bubbly and slightly golden brown on top. Cool for about 20 minutes before serving.