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!!
Can I ask you guys something? … Where did 2012 go?? It’s December 2nd and I can’t seem to wrap my head around the fact that another year has gone by. Time seems to be going a little to fast for my liking and it’s starting to freak me out.
On the bright side, I am excited that it is the holiday season, which, let’s face it, is the best season of all. Nothing makes me happier than the first snow, lots of sweaters, a ton of time with family, and packing on a couple pounds so that I can stay warmer in the cold weather (wait, did I just say that makes me happy?). Either way, the cold weather definitely bring in new cravings for comfort food, especially hot, hearty soups that simmer on the stove for an hour and leave your kitchen smelling heavenly. Oh yes… how I love those meals.
This soup is by far one of the best soups I have made and I am pretty damn proud of it. The original recipe I based this off of was a more brothy soup. It’s not thick and it doesn’t have any barley in it. But with a few of my (fantastic) tweaks, this soup will leave anyone feeling full and satisfied after just a bowl! Which is perfect because it lasts longer and feeds more!
The recipe this is based on is from a store/restaurant/cafe in Geneva, Illinois. It’s called The Little Traveler. It’s the ultimate girl place, filled with everything from kitchen stuff to candy and tea, from kiddie toys to fancy crystal bowls, from a year round Christmas room(s) to some pretty interesting clothes… it has everything. But best of all it has a little restaurant inside that has, by far my favorite vegetable soup. When I thought the other day about making it though, I was worried that it just wouldn’t be enough for us. Sometimes I get really hungry and let’s face it, a bowl of soup just doesn’t do it for me. I remembered I had a package of barley still in the pantry from when I made beef stew about a month ago and decided I’d make some alterations to the original recipe to make it more filling.
It’s a rather simple soup to make, it does take a little time though to cut up all the veggies and simmer. But in my opinion, it’s well worth the wait. It is loaded with vegetables and has a lot of flavor that comes from beef broth. You could try to make this soup vegan by using vegetable broth, but I worry it would be quick as flavorful. You could pair this soup with fresh out of the oven cornbread or crusty bread or biscuits… or it my case, just a lot of saltine crackers. Whichever you choose, they will pair well with the soup.
This is the most perfect meal for a cold night, especially a Sunday night where you can curl up on the couch and watch football, if that’s your thing. If it’s not your thing, then just make it on any night you want, no big deal. I really think you will enjoy this soup, I hope so anyway! I’d love to hear about if you do!
Hearty Vegetable Barley Soup
Adapted from a recipe that’s not online or anywhere to be found other that in my mom’s recipe box… oh wait, yes it is, I wrote about it on my old blog!
Makes a lot… I’d say at least 8 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
4 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped
14-28oz petite diced tomatoes (I don’t like a lot of tomatoes so I only used half of a 28oz can)
6-8 cups of low sodium beef broth (I used about 7 cups, almost 2 full cartons)
1 really big thinly sliced potato
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 tablespoons dried parsley
3/4 cup pearl barley
1/4 of a small head of cabbage, chopped
2 tablespoons flour
Ok… heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery and onion and saute until they start to get tender. Add the tomatoes, beef broth, potatoes and the basil and parsley and bring to a boil. The stir in the barley. Add salt. Simmer this for a good 30 minutes. Next, add the cabbage and stir. Using a ladle or measuring cup, remove about 1/3 cup of the broth from the pot and stir in the flour. Poor this back into the soup and stir to combine. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Check seasonings and add any if necessary. Serve and enjoy!