This is where the blogosphere gets fun. The other week, I blogged our usual Shepherd’s Pie recipe. Today I discovered that Kali Orexi (aka Maria), a blogger also here in the New York area, made her version (link to her post). So tonight, I bumped my previous cooking plans and riffed off of her version (not having the exact ingredients in my pantry) and loved the result. Thanks Maria!
The key differences are adding grated cheese to the potatoes, and using a different spice base for the meat mix. In some ways, this version is richer than our usual and I was glad to have an Italian red wine with decent body to accompany. Then again, I’m always glad to have a full bodied red, who am I kidding!
Mashed Potatoes Topping
6 large red boiling potatoes, peeled
1 cup milk
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (or pecorino romano)
salt and pepper
Boil the potatoes in lightly salted water until cooked all the way through (or steam them). You can cut them into smaller pieces to speed cooking. Drain the potatoes, return to the pot, add the butter and mash. Add 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, grated cheese, and 1/2 cup milk. Taste for salt. Continue adding milk until the mashed potatoes are quite moist without crossing over into being liquid.
1 lb of ground beef
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 medium onions, or 1 large, diced
3 medium carrots, diced
2 small/medium zucchini, grated
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup white wine
1/3 to 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 to 1/2 tsp ground all spice
2 pinches of ground cumin
pinch of ground nutmeg
1 to 2 tbsp ketchup
salt and pepper
In a cast iron or oven-proof pan, brown the ground beef and use the spatula to break it up into small bits. Cook with a few pinches of salt, cinnamon and all spice. Remove any excess liquid and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350F
Add a little olive oil to the pan and saute the garlic and onions until the onions start turning translucent, then add the carrots and a few pinches of salt, cinnamon, all spice, cumin, a pinch of nutmeg and some ground pepper. Cook for several minutes, then add the grated zucchini and tomato paste. Once that is folded in and cooking, add the wine. Let this cook for several minutes and stir in the ground beef.
Cook it all together for another five minutes and taste for salt and spices (I kept the spices at a level where they were there but still subtle). At this stage, I wanted to sweeten the mixture up a little bit more, so added the ketchup.
If the mixture starts to dry out, add a little bit of water. Once you are happy with the taste of the mixture, turn off the heat and flatten the top of the mixture. Carefully spoon your mashed potatoes on top, and using the back of a fork, smooth it around. As noted before, I like to then decorate the top with the tines.
Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, then turn the oven to broil and let the top brown (but not burn). Let the shepherds pie rest for a few minutes before serving.