Sunday, August 21, 2011

Batch Cooking: Shepherd's Pie

I asked my husband the other day what his favorite home-cooked meal was. He thought for all of three seconds and said "Shepherd's Pie." You'd never know it to look at him but he's actually a pretty picky eater so that made my heart smile a bit.

Now, my version of Shepherd's Pie is quite fancy as compared to the traditional family recipe. I grew up with the stick to your ribs mashed potatoes, corn, and burger mixed together and plopped onto a plate for starving children. I love it and so does my husband but one day I stumbled upon a picture of Shepherd's Pie that made me stop and think.

Could my favorite childhood comfort food really be that pretty? That tempting? That cheesy??? So, I tried a recipe. (This was when I was still learning the basics and I ACTUALLY followed the recipe.) It failed. (As did most of the recipes I would follow strictly...) I'm sure someone out there enjoys Shepherd's Pie with tomatoes but not this household! I tried again, this time using the recipe as a guideline for cooking times and veggie ratios. Success! But something was missing and I wasn't very happy with the need for cream of mushroom soup. Eventually, I came to the recipe I use today.

I had to be quick with this picture. It was the last of it and my hubby just handed me his plate!
Yesterday, I made up a quintupled batch. We had one for lunch today after church and  put the other four in the freezer. Oh, and we had a small casserole of it for dinner last night.

My Recipe
5 lbs ground burger browned with one large chopped onion, dash of Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to taste
I used chuck this time, make sure you drain it well! You can use any burger that your family likes. Traditionally, it's made with lamb.
5 lbs frozen veggies a la Sam's club (Cheap is good!)
35 thin slices of American cheese or 5 cups of shredded cheese
I prefer sliced American cheese for the melt factor but we've made it with cheddar, colby, co-jack, and velveeta (too cheesy for me.)
Mashed potatoes 
I microwaved about 30 potatoes in two batches. Threw each batch in my Kitchen-aid mixer (power-tools are not just for boys!!) with around a stick or so of margarine, salt, pepper, and garlic powder and a few shakes of milk until they looked the way I wanted them too. I don't peel my potatoes, if Applebees can get away with it so can I!! Sorry, I've never been able to get a real recipe on my mashed potatoes, they just kinda happen.
Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top is completely optional but it looks SO pretty! I use about half a cup per casserole.

Mix together burger and veggies in the biggest bowl you have. You DO NOT have to heat them through if this is going into the freezer. They will have time to mingle their flavors when you thaw them out. Divide between your five casserole pans. (Think Dollar Tree if you don't currently have enough pans. 2/$1)
Top each casserole with 7 slices of cheese or 1 cup of shredded cheese.
Top cheese with globs of mashed potatoes and spread taters out gently to make a smoothish top.
Sprinkle with parmesan. I normally just grab a handful and decorate away.
Top with foil and cover with plastic wrap and freeze.

Grab one out and thaw it the night before you want to eat it. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Each casserole serves 4 starving adults or my family of 2 adults, 2 picky eaters, and one small food compactor.

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