I was craving shepherd’s pie, the classic comfort food, so I looked up recipes for the ingredients while grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s and tried making it! This is not meant to be a recipe for others to follow, but you can if you’d like. I’m writing down what I did so I can remember how to make it again. Overall it was successful, but I’d add sauce to the meat and vegetables next time.
Ingredients to serve 4 people:
- 2 lbs. rusot potatoes (Trader Joe’s organic 5 lbs. bag, $3.29)
- 1 lb. ground beef (Trader Joe’s 1 lb. 96% lean/4% fat, $5.49)
- Half of an onion, chopped
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 3 celery hearts, chopped
- 1 can of corn
- Some frozen peas
- 4 oz. (half of 1 stick) butter
Using a food scale! Trader Joe’s sells rusot potatoes for 49¢ each, but they don’t have scales for me to figure out how many potatoes would be 2 lbs. at the store. The potatoes in the 5 lbs. bag are smaller than the individually sold ones, so it’s hard to gauge. I figured 4 potatoes would already be $2, so I decided to go with the 5 lbs. bag for $3.29 to have enough potatoes.
1. Boil the potatoes in a pot with about an inch of cold water until the potatoes soften. Add salt.
2. While the potatoes are being cooked, dice up the vegetables. Sauté the onions, carrots, and celery first because they take longer to cook, then the ground beef, and then the canned corn and frozen peas which take the least time to cook. Add salt and pepper to taste.
I need concentration and the kitchen to myself when I cook, but I was able to multitask talking with my sister-in-law on the phone while dicing up the vegetables this time!
3. When the potatoes are soft, mash them with 4 oz. (half of 1 stick) of melted butter. Add salt and pepper to taste. Note to self: Melting butter in the microwave doesn’t need much time, so be careful of it exploding in the microwave. 😬
Now I know how to make mashed potatoes again! First try was with Blue Apron. But mashing potatoes made my shoulder hurt. Thankfully I am ambidextrous and can use both arms.
4. Place the meat and vegetables in a casserole dish.
This was a healthy take on shepherd’s pie. I left out worcestershire sauce because I don’t even know what it is and don’t have any at home. Maybe some gravy sauce would have joined the taste of the first layer of meat and vegetables together and added more flavor.
The ground beef being 96% lean may have also been why I thought the meat wasn’t flavorful enough. Maybe I’ll use 85% lean next time.
5. Layer the mashed potatoes on top of the meat and vegetables in the casserole dish. Add ground pepper and thyme on top for flavor.
First time using thyme while picking up new seasoning at Trader Joe’s! Not sure what to do with thyme, but the label said it can go with potatoes, so that’s why I seasoned it on top.
6. Bake in the oven at 400°F until the vegetables in the first layer are boiling and the potatoes are browned. This can take about 30 minutes. Broil the last few minutes to brown the potatoes.
This took me about 90 minutes to prep and cook, which was longer than expected. I had to hurry to eat and rush out of the house so I didn’t take the time to brown the mashed potatoes entirely, but I can try it again with my leftovers. (Ignore the one celery piece that shouldn’t be there!)
7. Serve and enjoy!
From Doing Grown Up Things to Cooking More, Eating More, I am pleased to say that I have been cooking for nearly 4 weeks now, almost all the meals since my mom has been home. It has been like a flip of a light switch. My mom tried to get me to cook for years, and this time I finally made it happen. It could be something to do with the new year and trying to be healthy, wanting to cook so I can eat dinner at 6 PM and not snack so much after work, growing older and feeling more responsible in the home, and just challenging myself and having fun in the kitchen!