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Mostly Homemade Shepherd’s Pie

October 10, 2011

One large pie and two little ones.You’ll Need:
1 package Pet Ritz deep dish pie crusts [1]
2 lb golden or yellow potatoes, scrubbed and diced (peeling optional)
½ c milk (I use goat milk, you can use cow)
½ tbsp lemon juice
1 lb ground lamb (if you must use cow, at least have the grace to call your dish Plowman’s Pie)
1 tsp sage
1 16 oz package frozen mixed vegetables
1 .87 oz package instant turkey gravy
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
½ c water
1 large onion, diced (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste (I like white pepper for most of this recipe)

For a crisp bottom, bake the pie crusts as directed. I tend to skip this step, which doesn’t seem to hamper Moose’s willingness to devour large portions in any way.

Make Mashed Potatoes

Add potatoes to a large pan of water. Make sure the potatoes are covered. [2] Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, until potatoes are soft and flaky.
Drain the potatoes.[3]
Add the lemon juice to the milk and stir [4]. Use a large mixer or a potato masher to blend the milk into the potatoes. Add the milk gradually until the potatoes are a creamy consistency. You may need to use more or less milk depending on your preference. Salt and pepper to taste.

Make Your Filling

Brown the lamb meat. Add the sage, and a little salt and pepper. Remove the meat and cook the onions until caramelized.
In a large bowl, combine the cooked meat, onion, frozen veg, garlic, water and turkey gravy mix. For softer vegetables, you can cook them as directed before adding them to the bowl [5]. Stir until well mixed. A little salt and pepper go in at this point, too. Freshly ground black pepper does better in the mix.

By Your Powers Combined

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.
Divide your filling equally between the two crusts. Heap the potatoes over the top, making sure to spread the potatoes down to the edge of the crust. [6]
Place both pies on a cookie sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes. The peaks of the mashed potatoes should be crisp, the top should be firm, and any animals in the house including pets, small children, and spouses should be hanging out in the kitchen door asking if it’s done yet.
Serve alone or with a side salad. Feeds 8-12, depending on whether or not your hungry crew decides to ignore the salad.

NOTE: This recipe makes two pies with a shallow filling, or one pie with a nice deep filling and two mini pies, assuming you have the mini pie tins to make that work and the willingness to turn one large pie crust into two little pie crusts. You can use a little more meat or a bigger bag of veg for more substantial pies.

No, I don’t make my own pie crusts. I haven’t had the time to level up in that skill.

[1] Put your frozen pie crusts out on the counter before gathering the rest of your ingredients, so they’ll be nicely defrosted by the time you need them.
[2] A little salt in the water will help it boil better, and a little oil on top will keep it from boiling over. I learned this one the hard way.
[3] This is usually the point where I start cooking the meat.
[4] I’m not quite sure why I do this, it’s something I saw my sister do. Her potatoes are amazing, and I figure it can’t hurt.
[5] This is usually right around the time that I go “Fuck, I’ve forgotten the pie crusts.”
[6] I am told that some people put cheddar cheese on at this point. Those people are not allergic to cow dairy. And if they are, then they’re going to have really upset stomachs in a few hours.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 10, 2011 7:49 am

    Woo! Thanks! A splash of vinegar also works to sour the milk. (I don’t consistently have lemon juice around, but being the hippy I am, I always have vinegar for cleaning.)

    Pie crust is something I haven’t mastered yet, either. It’s one of my regrets, not having my grandmother teach me before she died. She made the most UH-mazing pie crusts in the world. I can feel her rolling over in her grave every time I pop open a package of premade crusts from the store.

  2. November 11, 2011 3:58 pm

    I make whole wheat pie crusts and I find them very easy. The trick is to have everything cold. Mix 1-2 cups of whole wheat flour with a pinch of salt, then put that into the freezer. Let it get super chill. Mix in about 1/4 cup of healthy oil of your choice (I use olive for everything). Then pour in just enough ice water to make the dough stick together. This probably only requires a couple of tablespoons. Take the ball of dough and dump it in an accommodating zip-lock baggie (I often use the gallon size), smash it nice and round, then pop it in the fridge to chill again. Once it’s cold, you can more easily roll it out.

    This makes a nice hearty whole wheat pie crust, good for savory dishes like quiches and meaty pies.

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