Grandma Estelle’s Shepard’s Pie
Published by Workman
I had to ask. “Joyce, why do you jab the meat pie with a fork before baking?” “I don’t know,” she answered. “My mother told me to do it. When your mother tells you to do something, you do it.” After Aunt Estelle died, Joyce took over Friday night dinners. This dish was always the favorite of grandsons Eric, Marc, Warren, and David, and with all those growing boys at the table, Aunt Estelle usually made two. The “boys” are now men, but they’ve never outgrown it. Joyce swears she follows her mother’s recipe exactly, but Eric usually complains, “I like the way Grandma used to make it. Yours is too neat!”
Serves6 to 8
Total Timeunder 2 hours
Recipe Coursemain course
Dietary Considerationhalal, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free
Taste and Texturecreamy, meaty, savory
Type of Dishcasserole
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 large onions (1¼ pounds total)
- 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1½-inch chunks
- Kosher (coarse) salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground blade pepper, or to taste
- 3 slices white bread
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 3 pounds ground beef
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 teaspoons kosher (coarse) salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Prepare the mashed potato layer: Heat the oil in a very large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until very soft and golden, 30 to 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a large pot, add water to cover, lightly salt it, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and gently boil the potatoes until tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain the potatoes and put them through a ricer (preferred) or hand-mash them.
Strain the onions, reserving the oil. Puree the strained onions in a blender, and combine the puree with the mashed potatoes. Add about 2 teaspoons salt and the pepper, and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Prepare the meat layer: Place the bread in a shallow bowl, add water to cover, and soak for 1 or 2 minutes. Then drain the bread, and using your hands, squeeze out the excess water. Crumble the bread into bits in a large bowl. Add the onion, ground beef, eggs, garlic, salt, and pepper, and mix together.
Spread about one third of the mashed potato mixture over the bottom of a 13 × 9-inch baking pan. Pat the meat mixture evenly over the potatoes; then cover it with the remaining mashed potatoes. Jab all over with a fork. (Don’t ask why.) Brush lightly with the reserved oil, and bake until the meat is cooked through and the potatoes are golden brown, about 1¼ hours. Cut into squares and serve hot.
Variation: This dish can be made using your own favorite meat loaf and/or mashed potato recipe.
1999, 2003, 2007 Judy Bart Kancigor