It's cold and rainy here in sunny So Cal today. The perfect day for something warm and comforting.
This is not your traditional Shepherd's Pie recipe, but that's why we love it. It's sort of an Italian/English hybrid. It should also just be used as a guideline - feel free to booger with it in any way you want (and see NOTE below).
2 tbsp. butter or olive oil
1 cup chopped red onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can whole peeled Italian plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 tbsp. tomato sauce
5 oz. fresh mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 tbsp. chopped fresh marjoram or 2 tsp. dried
2 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano or 2 tsp. dried
salt and pepper to taste
7 medium potatoes, peeled and cut up
2 or 3 cloves garlic, in the skin
1/4 cup half and half
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
In a large skillet, heat butter or olive oil; add the onion and garlic. Cook until soft but not browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the beef, breaking up with a spoon, and cook until meat begins to brown. Remove excess fat from the skillet. Add the wine, tomatoes and tomato paste. Then stir in the mushrooms, zucchini, parsley, marjoram and oregano. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes or until vegetables are tender and flavors are melded. Remove from heat and drain any excess liquid. Transfer meat mixture to a 3 to 4 quart baking dish, spreading evenly.
Boil the potatoes together with the whole garlic cloves until soft. Remove the garlic skins and beat the potatoes and garlic together in a large bowl. Add the half and half, nutmeg, salt and pepper and beat together. Spread the potato mixture evenly on top of the meat mixture in the casserole to form a crust.
Brush top of potatoes with beaten egg and then sprinkle with Parmesan.
You can either bake it now, or keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to a day.
Bake at 375 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes or until heated through and top is a light golden brown and crisp.
NOTE: Traditionally, Shepherd's Pie is made with lamb, but you can use any kind of meat you like - lamb, beef, ground turkey or sliced sausage. I've made it with 2 lbs. of Italian sausage, 1 lb. ground beef + 1 lb. sliced smoked sausage or 1 lb. ground turkey + 1 lb. smoked turkey sausage. It's all good. ALSO, I've used a variety of vegetables - corn, carrots, green beans - they all work great. I mean, pretty much anything covered in mashed potatoes is good!
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