Shephard’s Pie

We had a lot of leftover prime rib from Christmas dinner, and along with some mashed potatoes this makes for the perfect leftover meal.

Shephard’s pie is a classic dish that should be respected in the traditional form. It really doesn’t need any tinkering with, it is the ultimate comfort food and can also be a simple one dish affair. There are a couple of styles that shape your approach to this dish, and as it happens my favorite is also the easiest to make.

I skip making a roux because I actually want the base to be thin rather than a gravy. I will prepare the Christmas prime rib with a silky rich jus and this makes for a perfect flavor enhancer so I don’t bother whisking flour in to develop a gravy within the pie.

Late in the summer I plant a second round of carrots and onion sets, which develop nicely through the cool weather of fall to give me fresh from the garden vegetables at the official start of winter. Celery is another prized vegetable in my garden and celery is a tough SOB of a plant, it will tolerate cool weather as long as the plants have been established. The only other vegetable needed for this dish that you might not have leftover from your holiday feast is peas and frozen peas do the trick here. It’s rare that I will peel carrots that are straight from the garden, the skin is tender and flavorful. Vigorously scrub under running water to remove the dirt and they are good to go.

The mashed potatoes that you begrudgingly stashed in the refrigerator as you were cleaning up on Christmas night are the perfect topper for this pie. I don’t have a strong passion for mashed potatoes but good mashed potatoes have a fair amount of butter and/or cream, and they have garlic. A ricer does a fine job of creating fluffy mashed potatoes, but a food mill will also do the trick.

2 cups of prime rib, diced 1/2
1 cup frozen peas
2 ribs celery, cut on bias
2 carrots, cut on bias
1/2 onion, diced
1 cup beef stock
mashed potatoes
fresh parsley, diced
fresh thyme, diced fine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saute pan heat olive oil and saute onions until soft. Add carrots and celery, saute for another 5-8 minutes. In a mixing bowl, add beef, vegetable mixture, peas, herbs and beef stock. Salt and pepper to taste, pour in pie pan leaving 1/2″ from top. If the mashed potatoes are not already warm, reheat in microwave to make them a consistency that is easy to spread on the meat mixture.

Bake in oven for 40 minutes, until the liquid bubbles up the sides. At this point you can put them under the broiler to give the potatoes some color, and you are ready to serve.