Mmmmmm...Shepherd's Pie!!! My mother made this dish when I was a kid, and I loved it every time she made it. It’s actually a British classic that is made of a ground meat and vegetable mix in a herb seasoned tomato based sauce, topped with creamy mashed potatoes. The best part of the dish is that it’s then baked till the mashed potatoes form a golden crust. Dig into that and you reach the creamy mash followed by the moist meat and veggies. It’s delicious! Traditional shepherd's pie uses ground lamb instead of ground beef, and does not usually contain cheese. However, my family loves ground beef AND cheese, so I adapted the recipe to our tastes. Hey, everything taste better with cheese, right?
These mini pies can easily be frozen (thaw the frozen pies in the fridge and just bake them per the directions below). And these are a great meal to have on hand in your freezer because these pies taste even better when you come home busy and tired. When I freeze these, I cover them with heavy duty aluminum foil and then place 3 of the cups in a heavy duty Ziplock freezer bag. Pop in the freezer....done!
Mini Shepherd's Pie Cups
Serves 12, using the jumbo silicone muffin cups (Please note: this recipe makes a lot more than 6 cups. It will make 12 jumbo cups easily (with a little leftover). If you only want to make 6 cups, cut this recipe in half. If you make the full Shepherd's Pie recipe and use only 6 jumbo cups, there will be enough left over to make a 9X9 pan.
2 Tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 large rib celery, diced
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, quartered (optional, if you don't like them, leave them out)
8 ounces frozen peas and carrots, thawed
1 10 ounce can sweet corn, drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
3 heaping Tbsp. tomato paste
1 pound ground beef (I use ground sirloin.)
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup beef gravy- homemade or store bought
1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Ground black pepper
4 cups mashed potatoes- I did not specify a recipe for these as most people have their own favorite mashed potato recipe. Homemade mashed potatoes would be awesome with this dish. I'm not into making homemade ones, so I buy them in a box and jazz them up to taste like homemade. Click HERE to see how to jazz up frozen or boxed mashed potatoes.)
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray the 12 jumbo cups with cooking spray and set them on a foil lined (or Silpat lined) baking sheet. Or, you could also put them in a jumbo muffin tin.
2 Cook the ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat until well browned, stirring often to separate meat. Drain off any fat and set aside.
3. Heat the olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter in the same large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, mushrooms, garlic. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
4. Stir in the tomato paste and cook until mushrooms are soft and tomato paste has turned brick red, about 8 minutes more.
5. Add the thawed peas and carrots, corn, ground beef, the beef gravy, salt, the Worcestershire sauce, and some pepper. Cook all together for about 5 minutes.
******At this point, I like to set up the meat and veggie mixture, the potatoes, and the cheese in sort of a makeshift assembly line. ******
6. Spoon about 1/3 cup beef/veggie mixture into each baking cup. Add 1/4 cup shredded cheese. Spoon or pipe (to make a little fancier) about 1/4 cup potato mash to the top of each cup. If you spoon it, flatten it a little over the top and with a fork, make some lines on top. The ridges are what will brown and form a nice crust.
7. Bake for 20 minutes or until the mini pies are hot and the tops are browned. Allow to cool and set for about 10 minutes before eating.
Friends, these are hard to mess up. Taylor them to your family's taste. You can experiment with other vegetables like zucchini or green beans or whatever veggies your family likes best. Change up the type of cheese...Pepper Jack cheese would add a kick to these. Add some Tobasco for even more kick. Use the traditional meat, ground lamb...yum! You could even make these with mashed sweet potatoes. How good does that sound!!