shelter from the storm

food detective

Categories: Meat, Dinner for Two, Supper, Posted on February 6, 2024 by Sandy Bergsten

A series of atmospheric rivers have been pummeling the west coast of California and barreling into the Inland Empire. Our once sunny, dry oasis has become wet, drank and frigid.

Sweaters donned and fireplaces lit, it’s time for some good old fashioned comfort food. I adore shepherd’s pie, but it’s been eons since I’ve made it. So I poured myself a big mug of tea and set out to create a recipe that was sure to soothe.

This version comes together quickly, especially if you pick up “homemade” mashed potatoes from the prepared food section at your grocery’s deli.

On the way back from Jensen’s Finest Foods the view of our typically majestic Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountain range is completely obscured by the system rolling in from the south.

For shepherd’s pie begin by dicing half of an onion, a carrot, and a stalk of celery. Add to a high-sided skillet with one tablespoon melted butter along with two minced cloves of garlic and two sprigs of thyme.

Cook over medium heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the onions are translucent, and the carrots are just tender, about ten minutes.

Add three quarters of a pound of ground beef, breaking the meat up with a spoon, continue cooking until it is no longer pink. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add two tablespoons tomato paste and stir, cooking until it’s well combined, for another two minutes. Stir in one and a half teaspoons Worchester sauce and a teaspoon whole grain mustard.

Sprinkle one tablespoon flour over the mixture and cook for one minute.

Add three quarters cup beef broth and cook, stirring, until the liquid has thickened slightly. Remove the thyme stems and stir in two tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place the meat mixture in a 1 ½ quart oven-proof casserole dish.

Top with dollops of mashed potatoes then spread them out over the top.

Drag a fork over the surface of the mashed potatoes.

Place in a 375-degree preheated oven (if the mixture is at the top edges of your pan, set a foil-lined baking sheet underneath the pan to catch any drips). Bake the pie until the potatoes have begun to brown and the edges are bubbling, about 30 minutes. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

Generously serving two, this dish is as comforting as a cashmere throw on a chilly eve.

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