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Okay, so maybe I was in a bit of a hurry for the Autumn season to arrive. Or maybe I wanted to try my hand at making something British. Probably both. So I cooked a Shepards’ Pie for dinner the other night. Or so I thought…

This dish that was a winter staple in my family growing up. Easy, inexpensive, and a little of this stick-to-your-ribs goodness went a long way. My dad always made it with ground beef and we always called it Shepard’s Pie.

Well before I began to make the dish, I consulted my favorite cookbook: “the Joy”. Again, this is a little something I picked up from home. In looking up the book to link to however, I learned something new. The homemaker turned author was actually from St. Louis (my hometown).  Irma S. Rombauer had the book privately published in 1931 while struggling emotionally and financially after her husband’s suicide the previous year. It has since gone on to sell more than 18 million copies.

The wikipedia page features a picture of well-worn copies of the book from the library of Julia Child on display at the National Museum of American History (below).

Here is a picture of my copy:

What’s even more ironic, is the copy you see above that was given to me by my mother in 2003, is actually the British edition published for the UK.

Anyways.  As you can see from the first photo, I learned that what I was making would technically be referred to as Cottage Pie because I was substituting beef for lamb. I’m still calling it Shepard’s Pie.

I grilled the lean ground beef with white onion, draining off any extra fat and oils. I diced up some yukon gold potatoes and added large cloves of garlic to the mix in a boiling pot. Sauteed in some carrots, peas, corn, lima beans, with the beef and added some gravy I picked up at the market. When the potatoes were done, I mashed them using my potato ricer that hubby gave me for Christmas last year – and voila! Because air is incorporated into the potato as it’s pressed, the ricer gives you the lightest mashed potatoes possible. 

I assembled the pie my oven safe, blue ceramic dish with thick handle. My mom gave me this back in college and I think it was intended specifically to make Shepard’s Pie. I sprinkled the top of my potatoes with some smoked paprika and cracked black pepper.

I had to take an educated guess as to how hot to turn the oven and on what setting to place it because (a) my Celsius to Fahrenheit calculations are poor and (b) the oven in our new flat has lots of symbols on it but no words. Still looking online for a good instruction manual. Right now I am learning to gauge temperature and performance from the meager instructions on the back of food packaging. Sigh.

Nevertheless, after 30 minutes at 190 degrees Celsius on the setting with a fan symbol and heat waves – the pie was done.

We set the dish in the center of the table and carved out a slice. Each portion was paired with a large glass of a rustic red wine. Marvelous. Bring on Autumn!

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