Back when we were “poor and infamous” we went to a restaurant in Houston that purported to purvey the food of Great Britain. The only dish on the menu that we could afford was called “Shepherd’s Pie”. Over the intervening decades, we have returned to the dish, if not the place, as a comfort food. It is simple, inexpensive and it fits right in with the chuck wagon concept. It’s meat and taters!
Shepherd’s Pie is a dish consisting of a meet hash, covered with a layer of English peas, and “iced” with mashed potatoes. How much of each depends upon how many mouths you’re feeding. We usually feed a dozen or so, with a 12 inch cast-iron skillet.
Here’s how we do it:
peel the potatoes, and cut them into chunks to put them in a pot of water to boil until they soften. While that’s cooking, put some oil in a skillet and brown the meat. We use some ground lean beef, and some ground lamb. When the meat is pretty well browned, we throw in some chopped onions, which need to become translucent. We add a little roux for thickening, then, deglazing the skillet with a cup of red wine (whatever isn’t used up from the night before) we add salt, pepper, and a pinch of savory. Mix this up, and while it’s simmering, pour the water off the taters, and mash them with milk or cream and salt and pepper, and a bit of butter.
Pour about a half inch layer of peas on top of the hash, and smooth the mashed taters over it all. We put it in the broiler for a few minutes to lightly browned the taters,
…then put it on a hot pad in the middle of the table and invite everyone to “dig in!”