September 6, 2009

Kids in the Kitchen: Shepherd’s Pie

shepherd's pieAfter Matthew’s hard work at making lasagna, our family gathered together and discussed changing up “Kids in the Kitchen” just a little. In an effort to learn more about cuisines from various cultures, we wrote the names of countries on slips of paper, and the kids each drew a country. They each had the option of making whatever dish they desired, as long as it was a traditional dish eaten in the country they selected. Brittany drew England, so we immediately began researching traditional British foods. After sifting through Yorkshire puddings, recipes for bubble and squeak, and countless roast beef recipes, we settled on one delicious choice: Shepherd’s Pie.

I’ve posted a recipe for Shepherd’s Pie before, but it has been a long while since we’ve prepared this family favorite. This is a dish that our kids devour. With a ground meat base that’s bursting with flavor, plus a delicious, creamy mashed potato topping, how could you go wrong? Brittany was loving every bite, and Matthew couldn’t help but utter “Nom, nom nom!” over and over again.

Brittany using the potato ricer

Brittany using the potato ricer

This recipe originates from Gordon Ramsay, and I’ve stuck pretty closely to the original. My big change, other than doubling the recipe, was utilizing a food processor to mince the onion, carrot, and garlic until it was nearly a paste. This allowed the vegetables to become part of the sauce, rather than being detectable (read: the kids can’t tell there are carrots in the dish). I also used half beef and half lamb. I love (and prefer) lamb, but I wanted a milder flavor in order to please the whole family. Although this recipe does take longer to prepare than some alternatives, the results are well worth it. Reducing the wine and the broth allows the flavors to concentrate into the sauce, which seasons the meat and sauce in a manner that you just can’t duplicate with a quick shake of spices. I hope that as the temperatures drop with the coming of autumn, that this dish will find its way to your supper table, and will have you, too, uttering “nom, nom, nom!”

Shepherd’s Pie, adapted from Gordon Ramsay

1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into quarters

2 large carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces

4 cloves garlic, peeled

3 T olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 lb ground beef

1 lb ground lamb

3 1/2 T Worcestershire sauce

2 T tomato paste

5-6 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves picked

1 large sprig rosemary, needles chopped finely

2 c red wine (I used a nice bottle of cabernet)

3 c chicken stock

4 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

6 T butter

4 egg yolks

6 T freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add the onion, carrot, and garlic together in the food processor and “blitz” until the vegetables are finely minced and nearly resemble a paste. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large, wide frying pan over medium-high heat. Season the ground beef and lamb with salt and pepper and add to the oil, and brown for 2-3 minutes, breaking into small bits with a spatula. Add the onion, carrot and garlic, and stir to cook for another minute. Add the Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and herbs, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring nearly constantly. Pour in the red wine and reduce until nearly evaporated (this may take up to 20 minutes). Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil and simmer until reduced. (this may take another 15-20 minutes) The sauce should be thickened, but not completely evaporated.

pizza and shepherd's pie 028

Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain the potatoes, and pass them through a potato ricer. (Don’t have a potato ricer? You can opt to use a hand mixer and beat the potatoes until smooth. I do recommend a potato ricer, as it results in a nice, light, fluffy mash.) Beat in the egg yolks, butter, and about 4 tablespoons of the grated Parmesan. Check for seasoning, and add salt if necessary.

Spoon the meat mixture into the bottom of a 13X9 inch baking dish. Using a large spoon, layer the mashed potato generously on top of the meat mixture. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan over the top. Fluff up the mashed potato with a fork to make rough peaks. (Alternatively, you can do as I did here, and use a icing bag and pipe the mash into little “Hershey’s kissed-shaped mounds” to make it look pretty.) Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until bubbling and golden brown.

Serves 6-8.

shepherd's pie 02

39 Responses to “Kids in the Kitchen: Shepherd’s Pie”

  1. Just looking at the picture already makes me hungry!

    Angie’s Recipes

  2. I love that you are consciously exploring cuisines from different cultures with your kids! What a great idea!

    This Shepherd’s Pie recipe sounds awesome. And it looks so pretty with the piped “Hershey’s kissed-shaped mounds”… I’ll definitely keep this recipe. Sounds perfect for a nice weekend meal in fall…

    • Andrea – Thanks! We’re starting slowly, with cuisines from cultures that they’re somewhat familiar with already…and then we’ll move on to more “exotic” foods. That’s the idea, anyway!

  3. I’m partial to a good Shepherd’s Pie, me. ;-)

  4. This looks great. And I just love how you piped the mashed potatoes on top to look like Hershey’s kisses. You definitely got me saying “nom, nom, nom”!

  5. This looks perfect for the upcoming cold nights! As much as I love summer, I love making hearty winter dishes.

  6. I’ve never made a shepherd’s pie, and now I think I should!

  7. Reading your process of picking and preparing the recipe, i would name this a ‘Happy Pie’.

  8. Nice. I love a good Shepherd’s Pie and I’m partial to Gordon. Good tips on using the potato ricer – have never done this so will give it a try. Thanks.

  9. What a great way of getting everyone involved!

  10. Looks fantastic. I love having my kids in the kitchen. I adore your blog. Thank you so much for sharing

  11. I can’t wait for the weather to cool up a bit and have this type of comforting dish… yum.

    • Miriam – I hope the weather cools down soon! We’re looking at 95 degrees all week here…I’m ready for fall!

  12. mmmm shepherd pie! I can totally go for a plate right now, it looks so comforting and hearty

  13. I have been making another version of Shepherds’ Pie for years. How come mine doesn’t look as good as yours? I have to try yours.

    • Chaya – because I cheated and copied off of Gordon Ramsay! LOL I’ve eaten countless Shepherd’s Pies, and honestly, this recipe is a million times better than anything I’ve tried. It brings Shepherd’s Pie to a whole new level. Besides, Shepherd’s Pie is naturally gluten-free, so how can you go wrong?

  14. How comforting is this!! I can’t wait to start cooking with my boys as they get older! Great idea on the countries. Definitely teaching them about cuisine and the importance of diversity and culture, Love it!!

  15. I love to hear about kids that like to cook! My grandmother used to make a killer Shepherd’s Pie, using all lamb, and it certainly looks as though yours would rival hers.

  16. I love shepherd’s pie and can’t believe I’ve never actually made it at home! Have you ever tried freezing it?

    • Almost Slowfood – never tried freezing it, but I’d imagine it’d freeze well. Perhaps the “gravy” from the meat would mingle with the potatoes a bit upon reheating, so it wouldn’t look so pretty, but I’d imagine it would still taste good!

  17. I have never had shepard’s pie. I’m from Ohio, so it might be that it’s not an Ohio thing. We ate lots of casseroles, but I didn’t learn about this dish until I moved to Texas. That being said you’ve convinced me that I must try this. My husband would love it, and though we don’t have kids the dogs would be thrilled to eat up any dropped crumbs.

    • Amy – I find that interesting! I grew up in Texas, and cannot recall ever having this dish until I was grown. That being said, it’s one of those comfort dishes that taste like something you’d fondly remember as a child, even if you never ate it!

  18. This looks delicious…salivating already just looking at it ! :)) Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  19. What a deliciously nom-nom-nom post! I love how the cold weather recipes are starting to come out — some of my favorite dishes, including this one!

  20. I remember seeing Gordon Ramsey make this shepherds pie on an episode of Kitchen Nightmares and thinking “I need to make that!” And now I have the recipe! Thanks! That looks absolutely amazing! Gorgeous job!

  21. Shepherd’s pie looks scrumptious! My daughter also really loves it, she can eat a huge amount of the pie!

  22. You go all out for your meals at home… so if you were to host a party I am sure you’d go all out.

    I love the way you’ve piped the potato over the meat…I think I put on 2 pounds just looking at that pic!

  23. Delicious!!!

  24. I have saved this to my recipe box for cooler days ahead. We cook dinner together as a family on Sundays and pull from ethnic recipes to do exactly what you are teaching your children—exploring the world/cultures through food!
    Nice post.

  25. Alta, you must try my Mexican Shepard’s pie–Iwould love to see how you put your Texan twist on it! I’ve been addicted to my mother’s classic version since an early age, but found when I spiced things up a bit by using a chili tomato base and corn in the ground beef mixture, that it was an awesome pairing! Would love to know what you think!

    http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/2009/05/quarter-life-coaching-caitlyns.html

  26. I love a good Shepherd’s Pie as much as the next fella, this one looks great! Since daughterperson’s off to college I think I’ll not purée the veggies, though. And for sure I’ll find some way (and an excuse) to get some chiles or curry (or both) in there! Not a lot, wouldn’t want to unbalance the flavors too much..

    We have a lot of trouble getting quality lamb hereabouts, so I often use beef with ground pork loin, or even ground turkey! Yep, it all works…

    Great site!

    Mitch, a.k.a. the Chile Doctor

  27. So cute to have children help in the kitchen. Thanks for sharing the recipe :)

  28. I love the idea of writing the names of the countries on a piece of paper and drawing one to cook from…great idea!

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