Not Exactly Shepherd's Pie

The first time I've had "shepherd's pie" was at a children's party. Someone brought a meat-based mashed potato and cheese topped casserole and I liked it a lot. The person who made it said it was extremely easy and recited the recipe right off the bat. I made a mental note to make this dish when I have a surplus of ground meat and potatoes. What I learned as I researched more about the dish is that technically, shepherd's pie uses lamb. If beef is used, it's called cottage pie. If topped with bread crumbs, it's called Cumberland pie (see more technicalities on Jamie Oliver's 10 things you didn't know about shepherd's pie). Jamie Oliver has his own recipe with a difficulty rating of "Showing Off".  I usually like Jamie Oliver's recipes but this list of ingredients sound too alien (almost snobbish) to me. It includes shoulder of lamb, bone in (which cannot be found in any supermarket in Japan), 1 medium swede (what in the world is that?) and Maris Piper potatoes (not to be confused with Anastasia Beeverhausen potatoes). A mix of ground pork and ground beef is widely available in Japanese supermarkets so this is what I used for my Not Exactly Shepherd's Pie. A British friend remarked that traditionalists might see this strange combination of meats a violation. He might also be further horrified by the worcestershire-ketchup-soy sauce combination of many a Japanese "shepherd's pie" recipe.  But violation or not, this has become one of our comfort food. It has the difficulty rating of you-can-make-it-while-Facebooking.

5-6 medium potatoes
1-2 T butter
½ cup milk (or more)

500 g ground meat
½ -1 cup frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, corn, green peas mix)
1 onion chopped finely
4 cloves garlic crushed
3 T worcestershire sauce
1 T tomato paste
½ cup tomato chunks
1 t Better than Bouillon soup base
rosemary (not critical)
salt and pepper to taste
oil for sauteing

bread crumbs

Boil potatoes in salted water until soft enough for a fork to go through. Drain water then mash with butter. Add milk until you reach desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Sauté onion, garlic and meat in oil. Add mixed vegetables. Add worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, tomato chunks, bouillon soup base and rosemary. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.

In a casserole, layer meat, then mashed potatoes. Top with cheese and bread crumbs. Bake or use the broil function of your oven for about 10-20 minutes in 350°F or until the top is nicely browned (since most of the dish is already cooked, we're simply grilling and browning the top of the dish). Give it some 30 minutes to cool off before serving.

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