Shepherds Pie

Shepherd’s Pie is one of the first “complex” dishes I learned to make.  My Mom was dating a gentleman for awhile who was a very good cook.  I learned to make shortcakes from him and how to peel a Babcock peach (to fill the shortcakes).  But one of my favorite lessons was how to make Shepherd’s Pie.  Now I realize he had a special palate because he was very clear about the importance of making a proper stew for the “pie”.

This particular version of the classic was inspired by Anthony Bourdain’s Chile segment of No Reservations.  There is a scene in which he is eating at the rodeo with a friend.  They are served shortribs with mashed potatoes made with pumpkin, celery and spinach.  I thought, “What a great way to change up a Shepherd’s Pie!”.

So in honor of the nearly triple digit heat I decided to make the stew one night at about 11pm.  I used chuck, which I cut into small cubes, onion, garlic, corn cut off the cob and carrots.  I dredged the meat in seasoned flour and seared it until deeply colored.  After moving the meat to the casserole with the veggies I deglazed the pan with Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout. I added the deglazing liquid to the casserole along with additional Rasputin and some ketchup to sweeten the whole. (The Stout is quite stout in flavor).   The stew cooked for about 2 hours, covered over very low heat until the meat was tender.

The next day I peeled a few russet potatoes, a couple of sweet potatoes and put them in a pan with cold water.  I added salt and some chopped green onions and celery then brought to a boil and simmered until the potatoes were tender.  Then I drained the pot and put all the veggies into a bowl with melted butter and some hot milk.  I used an old fashioned potato masher cause I wanted it to be a bit coarse, adding additional salt and freshly ground pepper.  If you want the pie to set up and cut cleanly add a couple of beaten eggs to your mashed potato mixture.  I didn’t (forgot).  Then I simply made a thin layer of the potatoes in an overproof dish, layered a generous amount of stew over the potatoes then topped the stew with a thick layer of more mashed potatoes.  A sprinkling of grated parmesan for browning finished it off.  The “pie” went into a 375 degree oven until heated through and a bit browned on top (about 40 minutes).

Even in 90 degree heat it was delicious.

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