Sunday, May 15, 2005

Cheddar-Topped Shepherd's Pie

Cheddar-Topped Shepherd's Pie (Adapted from Everyday Food)

2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon canola oil
6 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
6 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 pounds ground sirloin
1 cup beef broth or water
1 cup milk
6 ounces shredded sharp white cheddar, divided

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large saucepan, add potatoes and enough water to cover - season generously with salt. Bring to a boil - reduce heat to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, about 12 to 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high. Stir in carrots, celery, onion and thyme - cook until the vegetables are tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in flour and tomato paste - cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add beef - cook, stirring to crumble, until the beef has cooked through, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add broth (or water) - bring mixture to a boil and let simmer for 1 minute. Remove pot from the heat and set aside.

When the potatoes are done, drain well and place back into the hot pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until any excess liquid evaporates, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add milk and 4 ounces (1 cup) cheese. Mash to desired consistency - season with salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Scoop the beef mixture into a 9" by 13" baking dish coated with cooking spray - spread to an even layer. Drop dollops of the mashed potatoes all over the top and spread smooth with an off-set spatula - using a fork, drag the tines over the top of the potatoes in a decorative fashion to create wavy lines. Scatter the top with the remaining 2 ounces (1/2 cup) cheese - place into the oven and bake until the potatoes have browned and the filling is hot, about 20 minutes. Remove and let cool slightly before serving.

Makes about 8 servings.

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