There can be little doubt that Shepherds Pie is a family favourite guaranteed to result in clear plates! It is literally the only dish I have cooked over the years that all of my daughter’s friends have scoffed without a blink of an eye! Even the ones that have highly tuned microscopic onion detectors tuck in! It is so worth the effort to get clean plates and full tums, and of course no wasted portions for a change!
And of course, it is an absolute classic way of using up left overs, can be cooked in advance, or in bulk to pop one in the freezer – it provide multiple ticks for our WNWN vibe! This week, as we start to detect an Autumn crispness in the air, we look at two approaches to this comfort food favourite – first the ‘batch cook’, and second the ‘leftover roast’ variety! Both delicious, and both with the satisfying feeling of having been not only nutritious, but amazingly resourceful as well!
‘The Batch Cook’ Shepherds Pie a la WNWN!
Having just taken delivery of a freezer, my life has changed – I can buy more than one loaf of bread at a time, I can cook and keep left overs, or I can even plan to cook more than enough for one or more meals! It is amazing! So buoyed with enthusiasm at this prospect, I decided my first ‘batch’ cook would be a delicious shepherds pie! Obviously as I was planning to freeze a portion, the meat had to be fresh as opposed to pre-cooked. You must never reheat cooked food more than once of course, so you can’t use cooked leftovers when cooking a dish from scratch and freezing for later! But fresh beef mine, and mashable potatoes at the ready, and determined to stay true to my ‘resourceful’ roots, I was also keen to use as much as I could that might otherwise get thrown away!
After a forage through my fridge, I came up with the usual array of slightly shrivelling carrots, a bendy celery stick or two, the tail end of a red pepper, and some tomatoes on the squish! There’s often an abandoned mushroom lurking within too – that would have got bunged in for good measure! No need to throw away less than perfect veg in my book, so it was diced and tossed into a lightly frying chopped onion in a thrice! Heck, why not throw in that shrivelled garlic clove as well!
I’ve also got some bits and bobs still languishing in my veg and herb patches, so a quick dig around and I unearthed some super tiny turnips, a baby carrot or two, and of course some fresh grown herbs! Parsley, thyme and a beautiful shiny fresh bayleaf all went in!
Mince and a spoonful of paprika added to give it some extra richness, I then found a jar of sun dried tomatoes in the fridge. Now we are not regular users of sun dried tomatoes and often buy them for a particular recipe, leaving us with half a jar parked on the top shelf of the fridge without any direction in life! It seemed to me that it would be the perfect enhancement for our WNWN shepherds pie, so into the mini chopper they went, and added to the mix! I’m pretty sure it would also work well with jarred peppers, and maybe even olives if you are an olive type family! And of course there is always the option to spice things up if you’ve got that annoying jar of chipotle or harissa from your latest Jamie Oliver experiment! The sky is your limit when it comes to shepherds pie – you can tailor and add your own twists – leftover passata from pizza night, half a tin of sweetcorn from jacket potato night….bung it all in!
If you’ve not added any squishy tomatoes, or leftover passata, you might want to add in some tomato paste at this point for some added flavour! And we do like to bung in a handful of frozen peas for colour!
Then for the liquid – a stock cube, and the end of a bottle of red wine! Now I am pretty hard core about wine – I will generally drink it no matter how long it’s been open, despite what Jilly Goulden might think, but the odd glass popped into the shepherds pie really does give it some extra flavour.
In the meantime of course, we had been boiling up our ‘floury potatoes’, ready for mashing with some butter and milk. Finally I get to use my mum’s ‘potato ricer‘ – she never used it, in fact I can’t remember her ever making a shepherds pie, but she told me it was the best gadget she had ever had! And it is fab for avoiding lumpy mash!
So, all cooked up, I divided my meat mixture into two baking dishes. One for tea tonight, and another for the freezer! Oh the freedom I felt!
Now, just to add to the ‘resourceful’ credentials of this particular shepherds pie, I should tell you that all peelings and vegetable scraps were duly divided between the resident chickens and guinea pigs in the household, the potato peelings having been cooked before serving to our favourite cluckers.
And of course, the piece de la resistance, a home laid egg to glaze the top of the potato and give it that crispy finish that we all love so much!
What’s not to love about this resourceful classic! We’d love to hear about your own versions! And the most bizarre addition to your own recipe! Just pop on to Facebook and let us know with #shepherdspietwists
For your information, here is the basic recipe! Makes two medium sized shepherds pies or one large!
Basic WNWN Shepherds Pie Recipe
- 1kg of beef mince, as lean as you like
- 4 large floury potatoes
- 1 chopped onion
- a mixture of carrot, celery, pepper, garlic as to your taste, but around one of each!
- 1 tsp paprika – some people like Worcester sauce of even ketchup
- 1 beef stock cube
- 1 glass of wine if you like!
- A squirt of tomato paste to taste
- A handful of frozen peas
- Anything else you can find in the fridge that seems to work!
- Fry your onion in some olive oil until soft.
- Add your veg – carrots, celery, mushrooms, etc.
- Fry everything until soft.
- Add in your mince and brown it off.
- Add in your paprika, beef stock – approx 750ml and wine.
- Add in peas.
- Bubble away for about 30 mins until rich.
- Meanwhile boil your potatoes until soft.
- When mince is ready, divide into baking dishes.
- Mash your potato with butter, milk and seasoning to taste.
- Spoon or pipe over your meat.
- Grate some cheese or glaze with egg.
- Pop in the oven for 30 minutes.
Coming Soon….WNWN Shepherds Pie | The Sequel | Roastie Leftover Variety
For more information about storing, freezing and re-heating food, check out this article which we found particularly useful: