I am a big fan of savory pies. Chicken pot pie has been a favorite of mine since I was a young child and I have spent years perfecting my own version. A second type of meat pie came into my life when I was 12 years old and lived in England for a year. The Shepherd’s Pie.
This can be a simple dish to make. However, if you go 100% homemade there is quite a bit of prep work but it is well worth the extra effort. The concept is simple though. Ground meat mixed with chopped vegetables and gravy topped with mashed potatoes. A wonderful one pot meal. And very good as leftovers so make a big batch. I have never tried to freeze this dish, but I did dehydrate a portion of it for camping. More on that in a bit.
You can use many kinds of ground meat, but the traditional recipe uses lamb. I tend to use either a lamb / beef blend or just beef. The vegetables I like to include are onion, garlic, celery, carrots, lima beans and peas. Most are fresh except I use frozen lima beans and peas. The gravy is a blend of flour, tomato paste, beef stock and white wine. You could use red wine, or no wine at all, but I am big these days on using white wine in cooking, and I had some open in the fridge.
This dish is easy to make gluten-free or dairy-free if needed. I will say that mashed potatoes love milk and butter, but there are subs for those that come fairly close to the real thing. Adding chives and roasted garlic are other non-dairy ways to add flavor to the potatoes.
This is a hearty, savory dish that called out for a similar wine. I selected a wine from one of my all time favorites wineries, Pride Mountain Vineyards. I do not think that this winery is capable of making anything other than stellar wines. They are of a particular style though, so they may not be your thing if you are not fond of Napa-style cabs. I chose a Cabernet Franc from Pride to go with the Shepherd’s pie and both were super delicious. This is a formula for eating and drinking more than one should because everything was so good!!
As I mentioned above, I took a portion of the meat & veg (no potatoes) and dehydrated them for camping. I have read quite a bit about backpackers who dehydrated stews and chili for their trips and wanted to give it a shot. Many of the dehydrated entrees that you can buy are pretty pricey and loaded with salt. People who hike 20 miles a day may need all that sodium but I am not currently one of those people.
The dried shepherd’s pie weighted so little that it is an ideal backpacking recipe. Also, it will keep for ages. I added some boiling water and let it sit for a LONG time. Like a good half hour. It was a little chewy so I put in on the stove and brought it back to a boil and let it sit some more. And then it was as good as when it was fresh from the oven. I topped the dish with some instant mashed potatoes for an easy home-cooked meal. I think this will be even better when it is cooler out and I can appreciate the warmth of this dish when in the great outdoors. A hot meal is really necessary in Georgia during the summer when it is 85 and humid.
Recipe for Shepherd’s Pie
1-2 pounds ground meat (beef, lamb, chicken, turkey or a mix). Quantity depends on your desired ratio of meat to veg
several carrots chopped
large onion chopped
several stalks celery chopped
1 cup frozen lima beans
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup flour (regular, whole wheat or GF)
2-3 T tomato paste
1 carton beef or chicken stock
1 cup white wine (optional)
2-3 large baking potatoes
butter, milk, sour cream or whatever you like to put into your mashed potatoes
– Brown meat in small amount of oil and set aside
– cook veg until softened (not lima or peas)
– Add flour and some additional oil or butter if needed. Add tomato paste and wine. cook until absorbed
– Add stock and bring to a boil. reduce to simmer and cook 15 minutes
– Add meat and lima beans. Cook 10 minutes.
– Add peas. Cook 5 minutes. Taste and add salt if needed
– Boil peeled potatoes until soft. Drain. Mash with desired ingredients
– Add meat and veg mixture into a large baking dish and top with mashed potatoes. Sprinkle with paprika
– Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until browned and bubbling