I first tried out this recipe as a freezer-friendly option when I was making some meals to bring over to my sister. She and her family were caring for her mother-in-law for a bit. Knowing how not having to worry about a meal would be a nice way to help, I took this Shepherd’s Pie recipe – designed to be made in a skillet – and translated it into a thaw-and-reheat respite. With the savory meaty flavors, the bright notes from the beer and the visual medley of vegetables, it’s a complete meal right out of the pan.
When we make it at home, there’s always leftovers; we can only manage to eat about half of the recipe in one sitting. So I knew this would be a nice two-fer in the mission to fill the freezer!
Skillet Shepherd’s Pie
(From America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook)
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 1 onion, minced
- 1 celery rib, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 1 pound 95 percent lean ground beef
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 3/4 cup beer – you can use nonalcoholic beer if you like, or a mild lager.
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 ear corn, kernels removed – or you can substitute 3/4 cup frozen corn, thawed
- salt and pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
- 1/3 cup 2 percent lowfat milk, warmed
- 1/4 cup lowfat sour cream, room temperature
- salt and pepper
FOR THE FILLING
Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees [I skipped this, as we were not eating it right away and would be freezing the entire recipe].
FOR THE TOPPING
Dollop the potatoes over the top of the filling then smooth them into an even layer, making sure to spread them to the edges of the skillet. [Or just skip to the freezer prep section below.] Bake until the filling is bubbling, about 15 minutes.
Position an oven rack 6 inches from the broiler element, heat the broiler, then broil the casserole until the top is golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the skillet to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
TO PREP FOR FREEZING
I then took two squares of aluminum foil and a Sharpie, and wrote out the thawing/heating instructions on top: thaw in the fridge overnight, remember to uncover, bake in 375-degree oven for 1 hour, and broil 3-5 minutes for the golden brown crust.
Once the pans were covered (and they came with plastic lids too, which I figured wouldn’t hurt in protecting the pans from a rogue rack of ribs in the freezer, or something like that), it was off to the freezer.
That brings the meal tally up to 5; 25 more meals to go!