Pastitsio, moussaka, hmmm … then my thoughts turned to a post I read a couple of weeks ago on Giff and Lisl’s The Constables’ Larder
in which the duo featured their favorite comfort food, the almighty Shepherd’s Pie. I’d eaten a few versions of this hearty dish for lunch in a couple of Irish pubs and restaurants in Manhattan while I still worked full-time, but it’s been a good five years since. So I decided it was time to try my hand at shepherd’s pie.
Now, this is my own version of this versatile dish so you can change up the seasonings, substitute different vegetables (every version I had in the past included just peas and carrots between the beef and mashed potatoes) and add anything you like to the potato topping. I’d like to think I added a Greek touch to this delectable dish, using some cinnamon to season the ground beef, some nutmeg and grated Kefalotyri cheese to flavor the potatoes and a layer of sauteed yellow squash sandwiched between the two.
Be sure to visit Giff and Lisl’s blog to read up on their version of Shepherd’s Pie
, which I will personally try the minute I get some good bacon and a bottle of Worcestershire sauce on my next run to the market.
5 or 6 potatoes, peeled and halved
3/4 to 1 cup half & half (or milk)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/3 cup grated Kefalotyri
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 pounds of ground beef
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon butter
2 large carrots, diced
2 cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoons tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
2 yellow squash, cut into 1/2- to 1-inch thick rounds
Salt and pepper
Boil the potatoes in lightly salted water until tender. Drain, return to pot and heat for a minute or so to allow some liquid to evaporate. Add the butter and mash until smooth. Stir in half & half, nutmeg, Kefalotyri, salt and pepper. (I used more towards a cup of half & half as I wanted the mashed potatoes a little loose so that they wouldn’t dry up too much during baking.)
While the potatoes are boiling, make the beef filling. Heat a large skillet on medium high heat and add ground beef. Once the beef has browned, add the onion, butter, cinnamon sticks, carrot and tomato paste. Cook until the carrot is somewhat tender, about 15 minutes (if the beef mixture seems a bit dry add some water or stock). Season with salt and pepper.
Saute the yellow squash, seasoned with salt and pepper, in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until browned on each side.
Place beef filling in the bottom of a pie plate or casserole. Layer with the slices of yellow squash. Top with the mashed potatoes, being careful to evenly distribute the potatoes without mixing with the meat or squash (bring the potatoes all the way to the edge of your dish to seal the “pie”).
Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 20 to 25 minutes then place under the broiler to slightly brown the mashed potato topping. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.