Sunday, April 18, 2010

Lightened-Up Shepherd's Pie {What's for Dinner? 4/18/2010}

{First off, sorry my what's for dinner? posts have been MIA the past two days! I worked a concert on Friday night and we went to our little friend Autumn's 3rd birthday party on Saturday night. Hence, both nights we ate dinner out and about. Nothing to report.}

When we were trying to decide what to eat for dinner tonight I pulled out an old April 2008 issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray that I kept. I flipped through it and landed on this lightened-up shepherd's pie recipe that I had dog-eared way back when. It looked perfect for a rainy Sunday night dinner so we went with it.

It's not a standard shepherd's pie, which I like. Ground beef instead of lamb, mushrooms instead of peas, carrots AND parsnips. I had never cooked with parsnips before so I wasn't sure what to think of them. I'd say they are basically like a cross between a carrot and a potato.

The only thing I didn't like about this recipe is that it was split up into waaaay too many steps. I thought they could be combined into less steps so I tried that out. See my changes below. Just keep in mind that if you make it the way I did, you need to use a giant, deep skillet in order to fit all the components. If you don't have a giant skillet like I do, then do it the way it was originally written.

Now please don't judge a book by it's cover is CERTAINLY not photogenic, but still extremely tasty!

Shepherd's Pie
Source: Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine - April 2008


* 2 pounds small yellow-fleshed potatoes, halved {I used red potatoes}
* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 10 ounces cremini mushroom slices {I used baby Bella mushrooms}
* 2 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
* 2 parsnips, cut into 1-inch pieces
* 1 onion, chopped
* 1 pound 93-percent lean ground beef
* 1/4 cup flour
* 1-1/2 cups beef broth
* 1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes
* Salt and pepper
* 3/4 cup 2-percent milk
* 1-1/2 pounds baby spinach


1. In a large saucepan, combine the potatoes and enough salted water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and return to the pot; cover.

2. In a large, deep skillet, heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over high heat, add the mushrooms {I added the carrots, parsnips and onion at this point too....make sure you use a giant, deep skillet if you do it this way} and cook, stirring, until browned, about 5 minutes. Arrange in a greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish in an even layer {I omitted this step} .

3. In the same skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Add the carrots, parsnips and onion and cook, stirring, until crisp-tender, 6 to 7 minutes {omit this if you did it my way}. Add the beef and cook, breaking it up, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Stir in the flour. Add the beef broth and tomatoes and simmer {At this point I also added the baby spinach to the pan and let it wilt down}, stirring, until thickened, about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Ladle the meat mixture {into the pan} over the mushrooms. Reserve the skillet {no need if you did it the way I did}.

4. Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 400°. Add the milk to the potatoes and mash. Season with salt and pepper.

5. In the reserved skillet, bring 1 cup water to a boil. Add the spinach and cook, turning, until wilted, about 2 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a colander; press to extract any liquid. {I omitted this whole step...see above where I added the spinach to the meat mixture}

6. Arrange the spinach over the meat mixture {omit this if you did the spinach like I did}, then spoon the potatoes on top. Drizzle with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Bake until golden, about 25 minutes.

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