I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving feasts yesterday and spent some quality time with their loved ones. I managed to escape any heavy cooking responsibility this year and was spoiled by an amazing meal with my boyfriend and his family in Pennsylvania. Of course, I couldn't help but wonder what was happening at my father's house in Connecticut. Did he drop the turkey this year? What types of cutie-pie outfits did my sister dress my nieces and nephew in? How many different kinds of pie were laid out when it came time for dessert? And, most importantly, was there any leftover chestnut stuffing and was my father willing to overnight to me?
As much as I am excited for the coming together of friends and family over lovingly prepared food on Thanksgiving, I'm even more excited about the prospect of leftovers from the main event. It never ceases to amaze me that I can always manage to find room for another helping of everything only two hours after I've finished eating dessert. And that includes another helping of dessert. (Yes, I am thankful for my high metabolism.) But, sometimes, you're just overwhelmed by the idea of eating more Thanksgiving food and you want to figure out a way to use the leftovers you have in a way that doesn't act as a blunt reminder of the holiday that just passed or the amount of food you just ate.
One of my favorite ways to use up leftover mashed potatoes is to make up a batch of Shepherd's Pie. If you have leftover mashed potatoes and some leftover vegetables like corn or the infamous combination of peas and carrots, then the dish has practically already made itself! Just preheat your oven to 400°F. Butter an an 8x8-inch baking dish and then spread a layer of mashed potatoes on the bottom. Next, spread a mixture of browned ground beef and onions that has been seasoned with salt and pepper, to taste. Make sure you drain any oil from this mixture before you spread it over the potatoes -- you don't want a soggy Shepherd's Pie!
The next layer should be a layer of corn (or peas and carrots, if you prefer). I typically use frozen corn but if you have leftover corn from your Thanksgiving dinner, then that would work perfectly here. Then, before you put on the top layer of potatoes, it's important not to forget my mother's secret ingredient -- butter! Strategically place pats of butter on top of the corn and then smooth on the last layer of mashed potatoes. TRUST ME. The butter will make the final dish taste rich and creamy!
Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20-30 minutes or until warmed through. Garnish with a sprinkling of paprika on the top and serve hot.
This dish will help distract your brain from trying to remember your Thanksgiving meal that you'll be back to eating Round Ten of turkey and all the trimmings in no time!
Note: I did not post this recipe with exact measurements or cooking times because this is a dish I learned from my mother. Everything from making the mashed potatoes to knowing how long to bake the shepherd's pie was done by relying heavily on our senses - taste, touch, smell, sight. If you do that and trust yourself, then the shepherd's pie will come out delicious every single time.
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