Happy Christmas eve my fellow Texans and cooks. Its been a bit since I posted one of the classics. So here's my easy Shephard's Pie. Great dish for hunters camp or to feed your household of hungry picky eaters. This one is sure to please on a cold day. Go forth and be Merry!
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 or 3 lbs or ground red meat - we use venison - adjust your meat quantity to your needs, however, I've never made enough of this and there's never left overs
2 packages of Pioneer beef gravy powder
1 carton of beef broth OR two beef bouillon cubes dissolved in 3 cups of warm water
1 package of frozen mixed veggies that you like - this is a good way to use up all those 1/2 used packs
5-8 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 stick of unsalted butter
salt and pepper
2 cups of grated parmesan - the real stuff, not that green can crap.
I'm going to start with this, so you understand from the beginning: DO NOT SALT ANYTHING UNTIL I SAY SO IN THE RECIPE
First off, get those potatoes boiling in a pot for the mashed potatoes. Next, lets get those onions and garlic sweating out in a big ole cast iron skillet. Just a little oil, medium heat.
For reference, thats a Lodge 14" skillet. I make everything for this whole recipe in it (except the mashed potatoes). I'll tell you more about this later.
Once those onions are having fun, its time to brown the meat. Did I mention not to salt anything? DONT. Just get a nice brown on everything, not a big deal if some is a little under. After its browned off, give it a strain to drain off the fat. While its draining, turn the heat up on your pan that you put back on the stove.
Back in the hot skillet to start crisping up. Now add your frozen veggies. They'll start to defrost and warm up. They'll make some water in the pan, this is good. Once you've got your veggie ratio where you like it, turn and incorporate everything evenly. Reduce your heat to medium low. Now shake those two packages of gravy powder across the whole skillet.
Turn and incorporate all that gravy powder into the meat. Its probably time to check those potatoes. If they're done, dump them in the strainer thats sitting in your sink from the meat. They can hang out there while you finish the meat part. Now that you've got your gravy powder in, roll it around and you're gonna see some magic happening. Nice thick glossy gravy will begin forming with the moisture from the pan. We need to add that beef broth though. Add it slowly, rolling the meat around. You want to develop at nice consistency that's slightly runny, but not water. Shouldn't be more than 2 cups of broth total.
Turn your heat down to low. Let that simmer a bit and go make your mashed potatoes. You want your potatoes smoother. Here's where your whole stick of butter, garlic powder, onion powder, milk and HALF of the parm cheese goes. You can salt and pepper these. Do what you like with your potatoes, just don't over salt them.
Almost time for the whole combo to come together. Turn your oven's broiler on and put your rack in the middle. Now check your meat/gravy mix. At this point, TASTE IT. Remember the no salt thing? These gravy packs are made to be incorporated with a total of 5 cups of water. You should use no more than 2 cups total. This is why I don't salt till this point. Sometimes the gravy seasoning is all you need. If you want a little more salt and punch, I always rely on my good ole Chupacabra seasoning here. After you get your season level correct, smooth everything out in the skillet.
Remember the 14" skillet comment? If you're having to do all this in a smaller skillet that wont fit all the toppings, bust out your big pyrex and put the meat in. Now its time for the topping. Bring in the mashed potatoes. If you've done it right, you've added enough milk so that the potatoes can be dolloped in and spread. Once all the meat pie is covered evenly, take the edge of your spoon and chop at the potatoes to create peaks and valley. These will become cheesy textural goodness. Once you're done, top with the second half of the parm cheese.
Now its time to toss that in the broiler. Don't you leave me Maverick. This will burn in a heart beat. Watch it brown, grab them oven mits and be ready. It's gonna bubble, its gonna brown, and your whole family is fixing to throw confetti, beer will flow, your wife will promise you explicit things... (results may vary)
Serve that 1100 degree goodness up on a plate and enjoy. I hope you make this. Please report back!