Shepherd’s Pie Made Easy

I can’t believe I’m the Galley Pirate lucky enough to happen upon Shepherd’s Pie as dry blog-powder.  This is the third of our series “Ace the Eleven Year OId Comes Aboard and GP Panics About What to Serve Him.”  Ace is a camping aficionado, so I figured Shepherd’s Pie had to be in his repertoire.  When I found out it wasn’t, I was elated…DINNER ANSWER; when I found out he “didn’t particularly like when his courses touched each other” I was…uncertain.  That’s the whole point of Shepherd’s (or Cottage) Pie, and its genre of boat food sometimes horribly but accurately called “dog bowl food.”  When you’re heeled over and tethered in on night watch there is NOTHING BETTER than a meal that comes all in one deep, manageable bowl, is warm and filling and tasty and comforting but also nutritionally balanced with meat, starch and vegetables. Time to initiate Ace as a long-haul sailor.

Shepherd’s Pie

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1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1-1/2 lbs lean ground beef
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
Pinch dried thyme
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
Sea salt and ground black pepper
10 ounces frozen peas and carrots, partially defrosted
1 pound frozen ‘tater tots, partially defrosted
1/2 cup shredded cheese

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and get all your ingredients together.  This dish comes together pretty quickly, which is great when you come in off a brisk day sail with a hungry crew.

Heat oil in large skillet and crumble beef in; cook until no longer pink, about 7 minutes, breaking up large chunks.  Transfer beef to a bowl, leaving drippings in pan.  Add onion, garlic and thyme and cook until soft about 5 minutes.

Add flour and tomato paste and stir to combine.  Add back cooked beef, plus stock, sauces, and about a teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the sauce thickens a bit, about 5 minutes.

Take time to appreciate the audience that comes with sauteing meat at the base of the companionway.

Stir in the peas and carrots.  Transfer to an 8-10″ casserole.

Top with tater tots and sprinkle with grated cheese.  This is the “even easier” part of this recipe — replacing mashed potatoes with ready-made, foolproof tots.  And what kid (my skipper included) doesn’t like tater tots?!?

Bake 20-25 minutes, until tots are crisp and filling is bubbling up the sides.

There you go, Ace — complete dinner all in one bowl, no slicing or multiple utensils or other finicky dining skills or implements required!  And if you’ve been climbing around the deck all day, you’re just hungry enough not to care if things are all mashed together.

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