Dad’s Shepherd’s Pie

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When I was growing up, my Dad was pretty open about his love for Shepherd’s Pie. (Although, come to think about it, he was pretty open about his love for all foods!) As kids, on our birthdays, we were allowed to pick whatever we wanted to eat for our birthday dinner. Between my brothers and I, there were more than a few birthdays that he somehow talked us into picking Shepherd’s Pie for our special dinner. The last time I saw my Dad before he died, he had made Shepherd’s pie for John and I, and we even had it specially made for our dinner after his funeral. So, needless to say, every time we make or eat Shepherd’s pie in our family, it is in his memory.
My Dad and I when I was 2 or 3 years old…..

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Here is how we made our Shepherds Pie this weekend. You will need ground beef, potatoes, carrots, onions, eggs, and chickpeas.
I started by peeling and cutting up about 8 cups of potatoes, and cooking them in boiling, salted water.

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While the potatoes are cooking, peel and grate about a cup and a half of carrots.

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And, start to cook the ground beef in a frying pan. I think I had about two pounds of ground beef. The amounts and proportions of the ingredients are not important, which is why my measurements are more like estimates…Also, I figure that if I am going to make one, I might as well make two… same amount of dirty dishes right? But adjust the amounts and quantities according to your needs or tastes… You can’t really go wrong with mashed potatoes and ground beef!

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So after the beef is about half cooked, add some chopped onions.

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And cook until the ground beef is totally browned. Drain the grease off, and mix with the grated carrots. I also added some chick peas here (something my dad wouldn’t have done…) and I poured it into two 9 by 12 pans to cool off a little. Look, I even got a little help!

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By the time the beef has browned, the potatoes should be cooked. It is better to over cook the potatoes, rather than undercook, since you are just going to mash them up anyways. Drain the potatoes, then put them back in the same pot, add some milk, salt and butter, and mash them up!

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Once they are pretty smooth, put them aside. If the ground beef has cooled a little, season with a little salt. Also, traditionally you would add a brown seasoning, similar to soya, called Wostershire Sauce…but we didn’t have any, so I added a small amount of Soya sauce. Then, mix a couple raw eggs into the pan with the ground beef. When the you bake everything, and the egg cooks, it helps the beef stick together.

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Then once you have mixed in the egg, add the mashed potato on top. If you add a spoonful at a time, it will be easier to spread. flatten it out with a spatula.

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Then, my Dad would always score the top horizontally and vertically with a fork. Not sure if that is the British tradition or not, but it sure makes it look pretty when it it done!

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You can either toss it in the fridge, and cook it later, or toss it in the oven now. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and cook it for about 1/2 hour. If you want the top a little more browned, turn the broiler on for a few minutes.

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Then, you have to eat the Shepherd’s Pie with baked beans. We wouldn’t have dared to serve it without! Our family still debates if the beans should be heated, or served cold… but the beans aren’t optional… I have even convinced Dylan and Sam to eat them too.
Anyways, enjoy!

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