I have had a love-hate relationship with exercise since I had my hip replaced and ongoing problems with my knee. After a hike that left me having to use the railings and a hop step to make it up the stairs at home, I knew there would be no hike in the near future.
I was pretty hungry, but not in the mood to cook something intensive. I had picked up a pound of burger meat to make a meat sauce for pasta, but didn’t want to spend that much time on sauce. Instead, I went for the Smitty version of shepherd’s pie.
Traditional shepherd’s pie is made with lamb, corn and mashed potatoes layered into a casserole dish and baked. Using the layered pie method, you get a little taste of each ingredient in every bite. Although I love lamb, beef is much cheaper and easier to find; so I will normally use it.
Also, I don’t mash the potatoes or layer the three ingredients in a pan and bake it. I do toss all the ingredients together once everything is cooked. I guess, when you come right down to it, I could just as easily call this shepherd’s casserole.
I cut the potatoes into chunks a little smaller than if I were to mash them and boil them until done. After draining the water, instead of mashing, I sauté them in butter on medium high letting them get a nice, crisp, golden crust on both sides while the butter also browns. The brown butter adds so much flavor to this dish it is incredible.
Once the corn and meat are cooked, I toss them together letting the brown butter mix in with the other ingredients and it’s ready to eat. There’s no need for it to go into the oven at all — which shoots down calling it a casserole.
It isn’t really that important if you call this a pie or a casserole as long as you call it super. Enjoy.
Smitty’s Shepherd’s Pie
1 lb. burger meat
4-5 red potatoes, sliced or chunked
12 oz. corn
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T thyme
Salt & pepper to taste
Cook the meat with the garlic and thyme; then strain all the grease. Bring the corn to a quick boil, strain and add to the meat. Boil the potatoes and strain well.
Sauté the potatoes in the butter on medium high in a heavy pan letting the potatoes get golden on one side and flipping them to brown on the other side. The trick is to get the potatoes golden without burning the butter, so don’t rush this part. The heat needs to be hot enough to brown both ingredients. If it’s too hot, the butter will burn and be bitter. Once the potatoes and butter are both golden, add to the meat, toss and serve.