Growing up, my family always had big Sunday dinners. My parents would spend hours in the kitchen cooking whatever meat and potatoes combination they could come up with.
Whether it be beef stew, steak tips and mashed potatoes or the ever-famous boiled dinner of corned beef and cabbage, all were delectable. But, of all the combinations, shepherd’s pie was always my favorite, mostly because it incorporated two of my favorite vegetables as a child: peas and corn.
I’m a sucker for traditional Irish meals, especially when they have the healthier aspects that this one does. Shepherd’s pie easily captures three of the four main food groups in one meal. You get servings of carbohydrates from the potatoes, protein from the meat and vegetables from the corn and peas in one easy-to-make meal. Even though my family’s recipe says it serves 6-8, we definitely end up with a few days’ worth of leftovers at the end of the day.
6 potatoes, sliced and peeled
2 tablespoons butter, divided
½ cup skim milk
1 lb ground beef
¾ cup beef broth
16 ounces canned corn
16 ounces defrosted peas
1. Cook the potatoes first. To do this, rinse the potatoes, place them in a large pot, and cover them with cold water. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat, and boil gently for 15 minutes. Then, drain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and the milk, then mash. For added flavor, you can also add a few slices of American cheese while mashing the potatoes.
2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. While waiting for the oven to warm up, I suggest cooking the beef. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Crumble the beef and cook it, breaking it up with a large spoon, until it is browned. Remove the meat from the pan, but leave some of the juice. Add the remaining butter, the beef broth, and some pepper to the skillet with the heat on low, stirring everything together for about 2 minutes. Then, return the beef to the pan and stir to combine.
4. Spread the meat mixture in a 9-inch rectangular pan and top it with the peas and corn. Then, spread the mashed potatoes and sprinkle a dash of paprika on top.
5. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 35 minutes or until bubbling, then place the pan under the broiler and broil until it is flecked with brown.