We really wanted to begin to start our own family traditions when 1 was born. In our first year of marriage, I had a great amount cutting to do, with apron strings, that is. I wanted to have dinner at my mom and dad’s a good 3 times a week. Looking back on it, eeeeks! Our first Christmas Sean wanted to incorporate a family tradition of his. His mom would faithfully make their family Tourtiere, which is a French Canadian double crusted meat pie with a savory beef, onion and spice filling. He made it just like his mom would have on Christmas Eve. I will admit it was hard for me to go along with not having Turkey. The meat pie was not bad. I ended up eating the filling, because the double pastry was very rich. The meat filling sparked gave me an idea. I was going to use it for Shepherd’s pie. Well, a few years have gone by now, we no longer make Tourtiere, but we do make Shepherd’s pie often, whether it be for a care package type meal, a cozy winter, or chilly fall meal, maybe a “what do we do with leftover mashed potatoes?” or perhaps just a fix to a craving. My sister will hands down say this is her favorite meal. When she lived with us, it was a regular weekly request. Now she is making it on her own. It is again, super cozy, probably because it is partly an eastern Canadian recipe and there is something cozy about the east.
2 lbs lean ground beef
1 cup water
2 small onions, or 1 large onion
1 Tbsp sea salt
1 Tsp nutmeg
dash of mace (I shake a bit more than a dash-maybe 5 dashes)
1/4 Tsp of Cayenne
1/4 Tsp celery salt
4 stalks of celery, chopped, including leaves
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables, or fresh chopped vegetables of choice
4-5 medium Yukon yellow flesh potatoes, peeled and cut
3 Tbsp butter
1/8 cup Parmesan Cheese
How To Play:
Cook beef in water until no longer pink. Add onions, spices, celery and vegetables. Simmer for close to 2 hours, or until all the vegetables are soft, for those nights when there is little time for simmering. While the meat filling is cooking, begin to boil potatoes. Once the potatoes are cooked, drain the water out, and add butter to the pot, as well as the sea salt. Mash, Mash, Mash. A key to making a good mash potato, is testing it. See if it is according to your taste, I prefer a bit more salt and cheese to my mashed potatoes, so don’t have exact measurements. Mix in Parmesan cheese. When the meat mixture is completely done, test the taste, see if there needs to be any adding of spices, such as salt or celery salt, then place in an oval 2 1/2 quart baking dish. Spread the mash potatoes evenly over top. My grandmother adds grated cheddar lastly to her Shepherd’s pie, so I do too, because Grandma’s know best. Bake uncovered for about 15-20 minutes until nice and bubbly and the potatoes have turned golden.