Friday, May 16, 2008

Shepherd's Pie (using leftover steak)

Shepherd's Pie is a very easy dish to make, and it lends it's self very well to lots of variations. It's pretty much a method, more than it is a recipe. The method is generally: mix up some cooked meat with cooked veggies and gravy, put them in a dish and top them with mashed potatoes, then bake till everything is warm, and if you're into that kind of thing, broil to make the potatoes crusty.

Now, the meat can be browned hamburger, leftover roast, leftover steak or even broken up leftover cooked burgers. I suppose it doesn't even have to be beef, but I have a mental block that beef = Shepherd's Pie and poultry = Pot Pie.

The gravy can be homemade, it can be from a jar, it can be leftovers from the yummy roast you made the night before.

The veggies are pretty much left to taste. Frozen or canned corned, peas, carrots, green beans. Heck, I've even put in Lima Beans. (Yes, I was trying to trick myself. Sadly, it pretty much worked.) Leftover side dishes from your fantastic roast dinner will do nicely as well.

Beg, borrow or steal some mashed potatoes. Sure, they can be leftover roasted potatoes from your famous pot roast dinner all mashed up and buttered and creamed. That's fine.

Okay, now that I've given a long winded explanation, I'll give an even longer winded demonstation in pictures of what precisely I did last night to make Shepherd's Pie from a leftover steak from Ponderosa.

I started by putting some potatoes and a couple of carrots on to boil. The carrots are for my filling, but since I was boiling water, it seemed beneficial to cook them all together. Peel and cut the potatoes and salt the water using whatever method you use for mashed potatoes. If your mashed potatoes come from a box, I won't judge you. I'm all about encouragement.

Here is my leftover steak. This is half of the one I actually had for dinner, plus the whole one that was overcooked that the waitress offered to wrap up for me. I'm a master of cooking with leftover restaurant food. I should do a whole doggie bag gourmet series.

Anyway, I just trimmed the fat and cut the rest into small quarter inch cubes. If it were pot roast, you could cut it or shred it, or if it were burger you'd brown it. But I'm digressing into the variations again!

I didn't have any leftover gravy, or any gravy from a jar, so I made my own from scratch. So this a special treat for you guys, a how to on gravy as well.
You start by melting a couple of tablespoons of butter in your skillet.

When it's melted you sprinkle a equal amount of flour on top and whisk it all around.

This makes what's called a roux. You cook your roux, whisking occasionally till it's a few shades darker brown. You can make it super dark if you want. I'm not that patient. Just cooking the flour will do.

Then you whisk constantly as you gradually pour in your broth (or milk, if you're doing white sauce). You whisk and add until you've incorporated all the broth and it's nice and smooth. I didn't get pictures of this because it's impossible to take pictures of yourself whisking constantly while gradually pouring.

You then let the gravy come to a boil and season it with pepper. I skip salt because there's alway enough in the broth. Even the low sodium broth. You want to keep whisking often to keep it from clumping.

I love making gravy. It's like a mad scientist experiment.

BTW, this is chicken gravy because I didn't have any beef broth. But it just needs to make things moist and tasty, so I didn't hesitate.

To my gravy, I added all the cut up meat, a can of drained corn and a can of drained green beans.

At this point, I wandered off and mixed up a batch of brownies while I waited for the potatoes to finish boiling. (And I've only eaten one so far! I am a pillar of strength and a paragon of will. They'll be going to our friends tomorrow so I won't be tempted anymore either.)

After the potatoes and carrots were cooked, I fished out the carrots, chopped them up, and mixed the filling all up in the pan. Then I made mashed potatoes.

Spread the mashed potatoes over the filling. I just used the skillet to avoid washing another dish, but if you don't make your gravy or don't have stove top to oven cookware, just layer this all into a casserole dish.

Oh yeah. That is a little bit of shredded cheddar sprinkled on top. Because it's really good, that's why.

And here's the first scoop. I like to bake mine just till it's all warm and the cheese is ooey gooey, but lots of people like to broil it and get a real crust going on.

See the yummy layers.

I ended up making a much bigger dish of this than I intended. It's that kind of recipe. You start adding things and it just takes on bigger and bigger proportions. We just had the leftovers for lunch, but if the idea of eating leftovers of a dish meant to use up leftovers bothers you, you could definately layer this into smaller individual dishes and freeze it. I would suggest freezing them on a sheet pan, and then wrapping them well in plastic wrap and tin foil after they're firm.

I now conclude my most comprehensive explanation of Shepherd's Pie ever.

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CastoCreations said...

WOW!!! I don't know if I can accomplish that. But I sure will try! I've never made gravy ... ever. Except from a powder. With water. Not too tough.

I will have to see what kind of meats we have leftover. I really want to use chicken. Is making a pot pie different?

I'm definitely going to try this one. :)

Bonnie Story said...

Wonderful!! I'm soooo hungry now. Great photos and narrative. Keep up the yummy work! Bonnie

Bethany said...

I'd say that in my way of thinking, the difference between pot pie and shepherd's pie is that pot pie has pie crusts and shepherd's pie has mashed potatoes. You can definately use chicken. There aren't a lot of rules, you can make this up as you go. If you think it'll taste good, go ahead and try it!

And if making gravy seems like a bit much, you can always use a jar of gravy. Or just make some with powder, if that's what you like. It's very flexible.

Anonymous said...

just a note...shepherds pie is traditionally lamb... cottage pie is beef :o) aside from that - I'll be trying it soon thank you

Bethany said...

Thanks anonymous. I guess I'd learned that sometime along the way, but I never have leftover lamb. It's not an ingredient I have much experience with. Maybe someday. When it's made with lamb, is it served with mint? Or is that just for cuts of lamb meat?

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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Sorry to be pedantic but the very name "Shepherd's Pie" should tell you that it's made with lamb. Shepherd - sheep?

MAde with anything else it is called "Cottage Pie".

PS I hated both when forced to eat them growing up in England.

Michell Waterman said...

Oh my goodness was this good! I had left a pound of deer backstraps thawing before going out shopping. We got home so late I was frantically searching for a recipe to use to make something quickly and found this.

Family voted and I cooked it. They ADORED it. Only changes I made was I cooked deer steak, used fresh corn and green beans (my 13yo gasped at the thought of using canned veggies, she's been spoiled growing up on a farm) and the only cheese I had for the top of the taters was some Colbyjack.

It filled my huge cast iron skillet and not even a smear of potatoes was left :)

Oh and thank you for the link to the brownies. Made those too while the veggies were cooking and they were equally awesome.

future foglers said...

Made it last night with leftovers from a roast. It was the first time I've ever made a brown gravy, so I feel like I earned a few stars in my crown. I also added in a few mushrooms to give it a little more depth and flavor. The dish was a hit!

Curtis Owens said...

I'm making this tonight with leftover venison tenderloin!

mama c said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mama c said...

What temperature should this be cooked at? For about how long?

Bethany said...

If you're making it and putting it right in, the filling and potatoes are already hot, so maybe 15 minutes at 350 to melt the cheese.
If you like the potatoes browned on top, 3-5 minutes under the broiler.
If it's all cold when you put it together, I'd say 45-60 at 350.

Bethany said...

If you're making it and putting it right in, the filling and potatoes are already hot, so maybe 15 minutes at 350 to melt the cheese.
If you like the potatoes browned on top, 3-5 minutes under the broiler.
If it's all cold when you put it together, I'd say 45-60 at 350.

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