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Shepherd's Pie: Traditional Irish Comfort Food

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Updated on Mar 2, 2010

Shepherd's pie is a staple of Irish traditional cooking thanks to the trusty potato, which was adopted by Ireland as a food crop in 1780. Shepherd's pie is an economical way to use up food in your pantry or freezer while simultaneously providing a tasty and nutritious meal for your family, on St. Patrick's Day, or any day.

This recipe, from Desperation Dinners, uses extra-lean ground beef, reduced-fat sour cream, and Cheddar cheese.

What You Need:

  • 1 pound extra-lean ground beef, fresh or frozen
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion (for 1 cup chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 package (20 ounces) refigerated mashed potatoes, such as Simply Potatoes brand
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margerine
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) already-shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

What You Do:

  1. Turn on the broiler.
  2. If the beef is frozen, run hot water over it so you can remove any packaging. Place the beef on a microwave-safe plate and microwave 3 minutes, uncovered, on high, to begin defrosting
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a 12-inch cast-iron or other heat-proof skillet (see Note) over medium heat. Peel and coarsley chop the onion, adding it to the skillet as you chop.
  4. Add the beef (fresh or partially defrosted) to the skillet and raise the heat to high. Cook, turning and breaking up the meat until it is crumbled and browned and the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. While the meat is browning, stir in the ketchup, Worcestershire, and garlic.
  5. When the meat is browned, stir in the peas. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer.
  6. Meanwhile, combine the bouillon cube and water in a 1-cup glass measure. Microwave 1 minute, uncovered, on high, to dissolve the cube. Stir the cornstarch briskly into the bouillon until well blended. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the skillet and stir well. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally.
  7. Meanwhile, microwave the potatoes according to package directions, adding the butter. While the potatoes warm, stir the sour cream into the thickened beef mixture. Spoon the potatoes over the beef mixture, spreading them to within 1 inch of the skillet sides. Sprinkle the cheese over the potatoes and broil until the cheese is metled and bubbly, 2 minutes. Serve at once.

Serves 4

Note: If you don't have a skillet that can withstand broiling, transfer the meat to a 9-inch square casserole dish before broiling in step 7.

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