The other night we were trying to figure out what to have for dinner. We had some ground beef, a few vegetables from our last CSA delivery, and the desire to do something a little different. It was a cold and rainy day so both of us were in the mood for something warm and homey.
Marc suggested Shepard’s Pie but I generally find it to be pretty bland and uninteresting. I thought about making a version of pot pie using a piece of puff pastry as the top crust but Marc wanted a bottom crust too. We finally struck an interesting compromise… use shredded potato cooked until crispy as the bottom crust, a savory meat filling in the middle, and a piece of puff pastry as a top crust. Bake the whole thing in a cast iron skillet so there isn’t a lot of clean up and you have yourself an easy weeknight meal.
The meat is mixed with Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, and fresh dill and parsley. Chopped carrots, onions, and garlic add additional flavor and vegetable goodness. Dried mushrooms add depth and savory flavor. Puff pastry tops the whole thing with a light and flaky crust. Feel free to spice up the meat with other herbs, spices, or hot sauce if you want.
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 lb ground beef
1/4 ounce dried wild mushrooms
8 oz beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon fresh dill
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste (or 1 anchovy fillet finely minced)
1 tbls Worcestershire Sauce
salt and pepper to taste
3 medium potatoes, peeled
1 sheet puff pastry, remove from the freezer at least 30 minutes before you are ready to use
Bring the beef stock to a boil and add in the dried mushrooms. Remove from the heat and set aside while the mushrooms rehydrate, about 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Melt 1/2 tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan and add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the garlic, onion and carrot. Cook until starting to soften and brown, about 10 minutes. Add in the ground beef, cook until no longer pink. Add in the beef stock along with the mushrooms, Worcestershire Sauce, tomato paste, and anchovy paste. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce is thick, about 15 minutes. Stir in the dill, parsley, salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.
Meanwhile, working on a lightly floured board, roll out the puff pastry sheet to cover the pan by 2 inches around. Trim the puff pastry into a circle (leaving that 2 inch overhang).
Grate the potatoes with the coarse side of a box grater. Using cheese cloth or a clean kitchen towel, squeeze the water out of the grated potatoes. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in an oven safe pan (we like cast iron) over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the potatoes and use a spatula to press the them into an even layer in the bottom of the pan. Cook 7 minutes. Flip the potato over to the second side and turn off the heat.
Spread the meat mixture on the potatoes. Place the puff pastry over the meat and tuck the edges in. Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 25 minutes, until the crust is browned and the filling is hot.
Let stand 10 minutes before cutting. Serves 4.