Last week I shared with you Bacon, Apple, and Rum Pork Chops, a weeknight staple here at Simple and Sweets. This week I wanted to share another easy and quick weeknight meal idea: Shepherd’s Pie.
Okay, so technically this isn’t really Shepherd’s Pie, it’s Cottage Pie. Shepherd’s Pie uses lamb, Cottage Pie uses beef. But I grew up calling this dish Shepherd’s Pie so that’s what it’s going to be.
Shepherd’s Pie is nothing new. I’m sure you have heard of it before, you have probably even made it yourself from time to time. It’s a classic dish that features some kind of red meat (usually beef or lamb) in a light gravy with vegetables. It is then topped with a generous portion of mashed potatoes.
My recipe isn’t out of the ordinary. It doesn’t use fancy ingredients (unless you think ketchup is fancy). But you are able to make it in under 30 minutes, with very little prep time, and with ingredients you probably have on hand.
I find myself googling “what should I make for dinner tonight” more than I liked to admit. Why is getting dinner on the table such a tedious task sometimes? The results I get back from that google search are plentiful and delicious looking – but one quick glance at the ingredients and I know I won’t be able to make it tonight – not unless I go to the store and spend a small fortune on ingredients. After a long day at work, I just don’t have the time, energy, or bank account to do that.
So what do you do? Order out? That gets pretty expensive and it probably isn’t the most nutritious – restaurant food is packed with extra sodium, fat, and calories. I’ve also tried meal planning, which is great…. If you have the time and discipline to do it. I would find that just because I planned to eat risotto on Thursday, doesn’t mean that I will actually want to make or eat risotto on Thursday….
My solution is to have a small arsenal of go-to meals. Dishes like this Shepherd’s Pie, last week’s Bacon, Apple, and Rum Pork Chops, and Tortilla Soup. You can browse through the recipes, pick the one that appeals to you the most, and have it on the table in less than 30 minutes, no shopping trip required.
I literally have a book at home, organized by protein and cook time, that I go to when I’m stumped for dinner. Over time, I hope to add all of those recipes to this blog. I have recently added a Resources link on my navigation bar. Under there you will see a tab for Simple Weeknight Meals. That page contains my favorite go-to dinnertime recipes. I promise they are easy to make, fast (most under 30 minutes), and will use cabinet staple ingredients.
So why is Shepherd’s Pie considered one of my favorite week night meals? I love this dish, not only for the classic taste and childhood memories it brings, but also because how easy it is to make. It’s one of those lazy night dinners, when the last thing I want to do is cook, but I really want something good to eat. I also love it because it’s one single dish. I don’t have to worry about making any sides.
The recipe below uses real potatoes for the mashed potato topping, but I have been known to use instant when I’m feeling really lazy. It also calls for fresh onion and garlic, but I have used frozen pre-chopped onions and pre-minced garlic and no one was the wiser. If you go that route, you can have this on the table in 20 minutes!
- ½ lb ground beef
- 1 medium onion, small dice
- 2 cloves garlic, diced
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 1 tablespoon flour
- ¼ cup wine (optional)
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 can, mixed vegetables, drained
- 2 teaspoons Worchester sauce
- ½ teaspoon rosemary
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- ½ cup milk
- ¼ cup sour cream
- ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Using a large skillet, cook ground beef over medium high heat until cooked though and browned. Drain any excess fat from the meat and set aside.
- Using the same skillet, add the onion and cook until slightly browned, add in the garlic and ketchup and cook for an additional minute. Stir in the flour. The add the wine (if using), beef broth, can of vegetables, Worchester sauce, rosemary, and the cooked beef. Bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add in potatoes. Cook until tender or when a fork can easily cut into the potato piece. Drain the water from the potatoes. Using a hand-held mixer or potato masher, mash the potatoes with the butter, milk, sour cream, and liberal amount of salt and pepper.
- Pour the meat mixture into an 11x7 baking dish and smooth the mashed potatoes on top. Top with the cheddar cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the meat mixture is bubbly, cheese is melted, and the breadcrumbs are toasted.