Last weekend I made shepherd’s pie and it turned out to be one of the best things I may have ever made. It was so good that I kind of want to make it again. And again. And then again.
I have officially made shepherd’s pie twice in my life. The first time was a few years ago and it was quite a failure. Well. It wasn’t BAD. I just remember being very disappointed with it. And I think at some point I had to run to the grocery in the middle of making it because I wasn’t following a recipe and realized at the last minute that I needed something urgently. That sounds like something I would do.
I found a recipe on Pinterest that makes shepherd’s pie in a cast iron skillet which is a little bit quicker and requires only about one less pan. But you know what? One pan is one pan and if I have a say, I will always vote for the method using less dishes. It ended up working perfectly and I can promise you that I will forever make shepherd’s pie in my cast iron skillet. It’s so silly to cook the filling in a pan and then transfer it to a baking dish when you can just cook it all in a pan that can go in the oven. I don’t know… it’s just genius and everyone should just listen to me and do it.
As for the actual shepherd’s pie. Wow. It was delicious. I tweaked the recipe a little to make it easier and I really just didn’t think some of it was super necessary, like adding an egg to the mashed potatoes and I wanted peas in mine… little things like that. I think what really made it so good was the A1 sauce I decided to throw in there at the end. I have a feeling that’s not a normal ingredient to go into shepherd’s pie, considering I haven’t seen it used in any of the recipes I looked up, but believe me when I tell you, adding A1 sauce brings it to the next level. You get an extra kick of salty-sweet-tanginess that you really just can’t get from anything else. We even added more once we dished it all up for dinner!
There’s just no way you can go wrong with this dish. Meat and potatoes. Isn’t that every guy’s dream? It’s a little time consuming to make since you have to the filling and the mashed potatoes to go on top, but I can promise you, it’s worth all the work. It’ll feed you and another person two dinners and a lunch and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be wishing for more after every bite!
Skillet Shepherd’s Pie
Adapted from Laura’s Sweet Spot
Makes 6 servings (it fed Brad and I two dinners and a lunch)
1 pound ground beef
2-3 pounds of russet potatoes, cut into chunks (you can peel them but I prefer the skins on)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and Pepper
1/2-1 whole cup milk (just depending on how thick you want your mashed potatoes)
Butter (to go into your mashed potatoes. Dare I say I used a whole stick of butter in mine??)
1/2 onion finely shopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 medium sized carrots, peeled and sliced
1 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
2-4 tablespoons of A1 sauce (start off with a little and taste as you go)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Ok- put the potatoes into a large pot and put enough water to cover the potatoes by about an inch. Add a hefty pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium heat and allow to simmer until potatoes are soft, about 15-20 minutes depending on the size of your potato chunks. Drain. Mash the potatoes either with a masher or with a hand mixer. Add the milk a little at a time along with the butter until you get a desired texture and taste. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside when finished.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the onions and carrots. Once they start to soften, add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook until browned, drain any leftover fat. Mix in the tomato paste and then slowly add the beef broth, worcestershire sauce and A1 sauce. Again, add a little of the A1 sauce at a time making sure to not add too much for your liking. Bring to a boil. Add thyme and peas and simmer for about 5 minutes. To thicken the sauce, pull a couple spoonfuls of the sauce and mix with the cornstarch to create a thin paste. Stir into the meat and veggies mixture. Allow to simmer for another 5-7 minutes until sauce is nice and thick (you might have to add more cornstarch). Spoon the mashed potatoes onto the top of the meat and spread around evenly. Place in the oven, uncovered, for about 20 minutes. It’s already hot so it doesn’t have to go in there for very long. You can flip the broiler on to just brown the tops of the potatoes, but I wanted to bake it for a little while.
Remove from oven carefully (the sauce seeps up from under the potatoes) and let it sit for a couple minutes. Spoon into bowls and enjoy!!
Well, I’ve spent most of my week trying to NOT be sick. Nothing is more stressful and upsetting than starting to have symptoms of being sick less than TWO WEEKS before TOUGH MUDDER. I have been freaking out on the inside, while trying to hold it together on the outside. I’ve been drinking more Kombucha than what is probably good for me, I’ve been gargling down Airborne like my life depends on it and I’ve been drinking more water than I think my bladder can handle. Along with blowing my nose non-stop.
And after all of that… I have still manged to wake up this morning with green stuff coming out of my nose, achey joints and back and literally sounding like I’ve been smoking since I was a baby. However… I am DETERMINED to power through this. I’ve been training for months for the damn Tough Mudder and I’m not going to let some silly cold get in my way!
See? I’ve gotten tougher since we started this whole training process! But I wanted everyone to know that I was sick, so that’s mainly why I wrote about it. I’ll be fine. Once I get some proper (stupid) medicine in me, I’ll be good to go. I have to be because I have some serious baking to do today that you’ll all learn about in about a week! Hhmmmm
I promise, I didn’t just make this post to write about being sick. I want to tell you about my first time making and eating Pasta Carbonara! Yep! Never made it, never had it! I was skeptical of it, definitely had my doubts… but I am here to say that it turns out, pasta carbonara is pretty good! The whole raw egg thing freaks me out. No wait, it’s not raw, the egg is cooked by the heat of the pasta, but either way, I have been scared to try it due to that factor.
We went to the Zionsville Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning (we drug Cash along with us, he was quite a hit) and stocked up on fresh, homemade pasta and bacon straight from the farm. I was hoping to find peas, but I didn’t want to have to mess with taking them out of their shell (plus we had a bag of frozen peas at home), so I didn’t get any of those and we already had a dozen brown eggs in our fridge. So what I had hoped to be an all farmer’s market meal, turned into a half farmer’s market meal. But that’s ok. The important stuff came from the farmer’s market, so I was able to come to terms with it.
For those of you who don’t know what pasta carbonara is, allow me to enlighten you. It’s pasta (wow!) with bacon and peas and then a cream sauce made of, well, cream and eggs. But you don’t cook the sauce. You simply pour it over the hot, cooked pasta and let that heat cook the eggs. I was pleasantly surprised by how delicious it was. It’s a very creamy pasta dish with wonderful saltiness from the bacon (don’t even bother adding any extra salt) and a teeny hit of sweet from the peas (I love peas).
Remember how in my welcome post I said there are some healthy recipes and some not so healthy recipes? Weeeelllll…. this will be one of those not-so-healthy ones. But it’s ok. We’re all allowed to eat heavy cream and bacon every once and awhile. But I did try to lighten this up by using half cream and half skim milk and it still turned out delicious. I felt a little better after eating an entire plate of it, knowing that I only used half of the heavy cream. Yea… I focus on the little things.
Anyway, go make this dish sometime. It’s a really great pasta dish and even better with fresh pasta. I can’t wait to go back to the market and buy all the different kinds they have! Enjoy!
Makes about 4 servings
Adapted from Pioneer Woman
12 ounces pasta
8 pieces of bacon, chopped
1/2 of an onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 cups parmesan cheese, grated
3/4 cups heavy cream (to make it healthy, do half of that cream, half of that milk)
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup peas
Fry up the bacon in a skillet until crispy. Remove from the pan and drain on a paper towel lined plate. Pour out all of the bacon grease, but don’t wipe out the pan. Return the skillet to the stove and reheat. Add the garlic and onion and saute until golden brown.
Cook your pasta according to the directions.
In a bowl, mix together the eggs, heavy cream (and hopefully milk), parmesan and salt and pepper.
When the pasta is finished, drain (but reserve about 1 cup of pasta water, just in case) and pour into a bowl. Slowly add the egg mixture while constantly mixing (you need to do this otherwise the heat of the pasta might scramble the eggs). Sauce should be thick and coat the pasta, but if you want it a little thinner, add a little bit of pasta water at a time.
Stir in the cooked bacon, peas and cooked garlic and onion and you are done!! Serve immediately… however I did find that it’s pretty good the next day!