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Mama’s Shepherd Pie

This recipe is sheer comfort food for me; my mother made this casserole for us growing up and it’s one of the first things I ever learned to cook. It’s also one of my husband’s very favorite comfort food classics. 

Now, this dish is not really shepherd’s pie. Shepherd’s pie is made with lamb, so this dish would more accurately be called cottage pie, which is made with ground beef. But this casserole is still wrong; cottage pie does used ground beef and mashed potatoes, but the ground beef mixture in real cottage pie has peas and carrots and flour and is cooked into a thick meat sauce, and topped with mashed potatoes, no cheese added. This version comes from my mom’s family, and uses no peas or carrots, but canned corn and cheese.

This dish is probably not cool or hip or trendy, but it is delicious. It’s really easy to make, feeds a ton, and the leftovers heat up like a dream. It’s a very cold, very snowy day here today, and this was just the thing I needed after shoveling 18 inches of heavy snow (in March!). Enjoy!

5 medium russet potatoes
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup light cream
3 teaspoons salt, divided
freshly cracked black pepper
2 12 ounce cans creamed corn
1 12 ounce can sweet corn
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound lean ground beef
1 large sweet onion diced
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup red wine
pinch red pepper flakes
4 cloves of garlic, minced and divided
4 slices of provolone cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut the five medium russet potatoes into 2 inch pieces. Place in heavily salted cold water and bring to a boil. Boil until the potatoes are easily pierced with a butter knife. Drain. Add the stick of butter and, black pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 clove of garlic, light cream and mash with a potato masher until smooth. Set aside.

In a large cast iron skillet, add one tablespoon olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking it up into little pieces. Add the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, bay leaves, onion, remaining garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook until the onion is translucent and the beef is browned. Add the Worcestershire sauce and wine, and cook until the liquid is evaporated. 

Smooth the beef picture into an even layer. Top with the creamed and sweet corn and smooth out that layer. Dollop over the mashed potatoes and smooth that layer. Top with the slices of provolone cheese. 

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the casserole is bubbly and the cheese is melted and golden brown (use the broiler for 5 minutes if needed to make the cheese really golden and lovely). Let cool for 10 minutes before serving it up. Enjoy!


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