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.
You start by melting a couple of tablespoons of butter in your skillet.
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.
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.)
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.
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.