Shepherds Pie has been my favorite food since I was a kid. My mom made it for me quite a bit and it's always been my "birthday food". We did a pretty simple recipe at that time, which I still love, but since have tried different versions. This recipe is being posted during the "stay home" mandate of the Corona Virus (covid19) April 2020 - we've changed the store over to a grocer for the neighborhood right now and the ingredients are pretty much all from the store. In this time when keeping supplies is important, we (Joey and I) have been primarily cooking from the store and especially with any produce that is going bad or doesn't look good enough sell to anyone - think imperfect or small ears of corn, tomatoes with major bruising, turnips that are turning soft! So a couple items here are being used that I normally wouldn't have chosen, but in the end turned out great.
Shepherds Pie, for me at least, consists of a meat, mashed potatoes, cheese, tomato sauce, onions, garlic, corn, carrots and sometimes peas. The tomato sauce, onions, mashed potatoes, cheese and corn are the basics I don't believe can be substituted, but you can choose your meat (ground beef, chicken or meat substitute like Beyond Meat) and the veggies can be as well. Also the mash can be potatoes but also cauliflower, turnips, etc.
For this version we are using:
1 pound ground pork from Harmony Ridge Farms (local)
1 bunch of collard greens from Harmony Ridge Farms
2 large turnips from Harmony Ridge Farms
A dozen small red potatoes
1 large yellow onion
A dozen roma tomatoes (nearing the end of their shelf life!)
4 shiitake mushrooms (in the fridge, time to go!)
3 ears of yellow corn (little stumpy guys that we couldn't sell)
5 slices American cheese
Salt, pepper, olive oil, butter & paprika
Step 1 - make the mashed potatoes & brown whatever meat you are choosing
BROWN THE MEAT
I assume you know how to do this, but if not, heat up a skillet, add a bit of butter or oil, break up the ground pork in this case, let sear just a bit. Set aside keeping the fat in the pan, you'll use it later.
Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil, add a teaspoon of salt
Place the red potatoes, whole, in the water
Add the turnips, diced about 1/2 inch as well.
Boil for 10 minutes, remove from the water and mash adding 2 -3 tablespoons of butter, a pinch or two of salt and pepper.
DONE - hold and wait...
Step 2 - sauté the veggies
Since I'm using collards in this as a green veggie I'm going to cook them separately, but normally you would just pre-cook all the veggies together. I finely chopped the collards and lightly sautéed in a tablespoon of butter.
In the pan from the browned pork I added chopped onion, garlic, corn and the diced mushrooms. Sauté until the onions caramelize, about 10 minutes over medium heat.
Step 3 - tomato sauce
I typically use a can of tomato sauce, can of diced tomatoes, or even a can of tomato soup. In this case we had Roma tomatoes at the store that needed to be used, so I put them in the food processor and blended them down, not all the way down to liquid, but pretty fine.
Step 4 - put it all together...
Mix the browned meat, the tomato sauce and all the veggies in a casserole dish. Add in a few pinches of salt, pepper and paprika (and maybe a few red pepper flakes)
Top with an even layer of the mashed turnips and taters. Stop and eat the extra from the bowl.
Place in a pre-heated oven at 375 for 20 minutes, rotate at that time and cook for 20 more minutes. Add cheese to the top and leave in the oven for another 5 minutes.
Pull out and let stand for 10 - 15 minutes so it sets up a bit. Scoop out and serve! It's even better the next day as leftovers.