Growing up, I never liked shepherd’s pie. It seemed like a good idea, but always tasted bland. My husband’s family makes a version using canned tomato soup and lots of cheese. It definitely has more flavor, but is nowhere near traditional. This recipe from America’s Test Kitchen has tons of flavor and is much more traditional. Plus, it makes ground beef seriously tender! That’s a big deal.
Naptime tip: Chop your veg and get your potatoes cooked, mashed and in a ziplock bag in the fridge. Dinner will come together super fast!
Skillet Shepherd’s Pie
(slightly adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)
*Sometimes I split the stew into 2 loaf pans before topping with potatoes. Broil one and freeze the other!
1-1/2 pounds 93 percent lean ground beef
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Salt and pepper
2-1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1‐inch chunks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup 2 percent low‐fat milk
1 large egg yolk
8 scallions, sliced thin
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
4 ounces white or cremini mushrooms, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons good apple cider
2 tablespoons all‐purpose flour
1-1/4 cups beef broth
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Place potatoes and 1 tablespoon salt in large saucepan; add water to cover. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain potatoes; return to saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, to evaporate any remaining moisture, about 1 minute. Off heat, mash potatoes smooth with potato masher. Stir in butter. Whisk milk and egg yolk together in bowl, then stir into potatoes. Stir in scallions; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover; set aside.
Toss ground beef with 2 tablespoons water, baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in bowl until well combined; let sit for 20 minutes.
While beef is sitting, heat oil in broiler-safe 10-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, carrot and mushrooms and cook until vegetables begin to soften, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and garlic and cook until bottom of skillet is dark brown, about 1 minute. Stir in apple juice, scraping up any browned bits, and cook until evaporated, about 1 minute. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Stir in broth, Worcestershire, bay leaf, thyme; bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits.
Reduce heat to medium-low. Pinch beef into 2-inch pieces and lay on top of mixture in skillet. Cover and cook gently until beef is cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes, stirring and breaking up meat chunks with two forks halfway through cooking time. Combine cornstarch and remaining 2 teaspoons water in bowl, then stir into skillet. Continue to simmer, stirring constantly, until filling is slightly thickened, about 30 seconds. Remove thyme and bay leaf. Season with pepper to taste.
Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Place mashed potatoes in large zipper-lock bag; snip off corner to create 1-inch opening. Pipe potatoes evenly over filling to cover entire surface. Smooth potato with back of spoon, then use tines of fork to make ridges over surface. Place skillet on rimmed baking sheet; broil until potatoes are golden and sauce is bubbling, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool slightly; serve.