January 29th, 2009

Shepherd’s Pie: Easy from Scratch or Use Leftovers

Shepherd's Pie

When Isaac first started eating meat, at around 11 months or so, I made shepherd’s pie all the time. Mike and I love it, and mixing ground meat with mashed potatoes makes it a very friendly way to introduce animal protein to an early eater. Plus, you can throw in a huge variety of veggies.

I usually make shepherd’s pie using fresh ground meat, but I recently tried using left over roasted lamb that I was afraid would go to waste. It worked great! Frozen veggies are perfect for this recipe. And when I’m feeling super crunched for time, I use pre-made mashed potatoes from my local natural food market. Works like a charm.

Quick to cook. Makes great use of pantry staples and leftovers. Easily adjusted to accommodate short cuts and left-over friendly portions (or party-friendly portions). And freezes well. I’d say that shepherd’s pie is close to the perfect one-dish meal for us meat-eating ChowMamas and ChowPapas.

Shepherd’s Pie
(can be served to kids 10+ mos)

1 lb ground organic beef (you may need to add butter if using a leaner meat)
1 medium organic onion, chopped (finely minced for early eaters)
1 clove organic garlic, finely minced
1 tsp organic thyme, fresh or dried
3 tbs organic ketchup
about 1 tbs organic flour
1 lb bag frozen organic mixed veggies (or whatever frozen veggies you have on hand; finely mince for early eaters)
1/2 cup organic beef or chicken broth (optional)
salt and pepper
1/2 cup organic parmesan (or other melty cheese)
organic mashed potatoes (recipe below)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sauté ground meat in a skillet until cooked through. Break up meat as much as you can, making sure there are no big chunks (especially if you’re feeding an early eater).

2. Add onions and garlic and cook until translucent. (Here’s where you may need to add a little fat if you’re using a super lean meat.)

3. Add thyme, ketchup, flour, frozen veggies (straight from the freezer), and up to a 1/2 cup of broth or water. Cook until liquid thickens and pulls all the ingredients together. If everyone takes salt and pepper, season now (otherwise wait until you serve so you can skip for the little ones).

4. Put the meat & veg mixture in a baking dish and top with mashed potatoes. Top with grated cheese and some black pepper. Bake until cheese is melted and mashed potatoes start to brown.

Adjustments for using already cooked meat

  • Sauté onion and garlic in 2 tbs of butter as your first step
  • While the onions and garlic cook, mince leftover meat (I used the food processor)
  • Add meat to onions and garlic—you may need to add some fat and/or broth if your meat is lean
    Resume at step 3 above

Mashed Potatoes

My mashed potatoes are far from perfect, but they’re quite yummy considering I don’t use cream or other fatty dairy that tend to make mashed potatoes irresistible. I use the paddle attachment on my kitchen aid when I feel fancy, but am not a stickler for that. I’m happy to eat lumpy taters (at home), so long as they have good flavor. Oh. And the age old question: What kind of potatoes are best for mashed? I tend to use Yukon Gold, but decide for yourself.

Mashed Potatoes
(can be served to kids 8+ mos)
2 lbs organic potatoes
4 tbs organic butter
1 cup of organic whole milk
salt and pepper to taste

1. Peel potatoes and cut into 1-2″ pieces (don’t fret over being exact!).

2. Put potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water. Cook over high heat until potatoes are just cooked throughout (you should be able to pierce them with a fork).

3. Place cooked potatoes in bowl (of mixer, if using). Mash or turn mixer on to start breaking down potatoes.

4. Add milk and butter in 1 tbsp pieces.

5. Keep mashing or mixing until desired consistency. Give it time and effort. Even with the mixer, this step always takes longer than I remember.

6 Responses

  1. [...] Shepherd’s Pie mixes a variety of veggies with smooth mashed potatoes and flavorful meat [...]

  2. [...] never change a thing about his recipe. I also find the leftovers perfect for BBQ sandwiches and Shepherd’s Pie, an easy and freezable dish that can be fed to kids as young as 10 months. Spicy Braised Beef [...]

  3. I know I’m going to have a ton of leftovers after the new year. Can’t wait to try this out!

  4. [...] easier for the month: crepes, dosas, veggie fillings (e.g., chickpea, spinach and potato mash), a shepherd’s pie, zucchini or sweet potato muffins, baked chicken fingers, or polenta squares which can be layered [...]

  5. brandi says:

    I made this last night, and I guess I got the pan too full because it overflowed onto the oven floor a little and my house smelled like a greasy spoon hamburger joint. :) Still, I will make this a million times because it was awesome and homey and easy (I made the mashed potatoes the night before when I was cleaning up the kitchen), and the bag full of frozen veg made it seem like food we actually eat and not just a meat and potatoes fest. (Although that sounds like a pretty fun fest.) I’m keeping this gem in my pocket for when I really need to be fortified. My little tiger still won’t eat mashed potatoes, but I know we’ll laugh about that some day.

  6. an oldie but goodie. so nice to see that you found—and enjoyed—this recipe, @brandi!

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