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Andrea Hunter Halgrimson, Published March 13 2012

Halgrimson: Shepherd’s pie puts leftover potatoes to use

Leftover mashed potatoes are never a problem at my house because I do exactly what my mother did – beat an egg into them, make the potatoes into patties, stick a little piece of cheese in the center and fry the patties in butter.

Mmmmmm.

But recently I had way more leftover mashed potatoes than I could use for patties; so I tried something new and used the leftovers to make Shepherd’s Pie – something I had never eaten before.

I used a basic recipe and added a few embellishments; I never like to follow a recipe exactly.

One alteration was using a pound of lean ground pork, which I had in the freezer. And the recipe suggested 1½ cups mixed vegetables (chopped carrots, corn, peas) which I didn’t have so I used what I had on hand.

I had some potato water from some kumla (potato dumplings) in the fridge, so I added that instead of beef broth. My grandma always used the kumla water in her bread.

And I always have a jar of roasted red bell peppers in the fridge, so some of those went in the mix. The remaining butter was melted, and I added a few tablespoons of olive oil to pour over the potatoes after they were settled on top of the meat mixture in a casserole.

Shepherd’s Pie was traditionally a dish created to use the leftovers from a Sunday dinner. It was often diced lamb or mutton combined with gravy and vegetables and topped with mashed potatoes.

It was delicious and I’ll make it again since it’s an easy and creative way to use leftovers.

If you’d like to try something else with the remaining mashed potatoes I used some of mine to make potato soup, to which I added the rest of the kumla water.

SHEPHERD’S PIE

8 tablespoons butter

1 onion, chopped

1 rib celery, chopped

1 large carrot cut in small cubes

1 pound ground beef or lean ground pork

3 to 4 roasted red bell peppers, chopped

½ cup beef broth

1 or 2 tablespoons catsup

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Salt, pepper, to taste

About 2 cups mashed potatoes

Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a in large frying pan and sauté onions, celery and carrots in butter until onions are softened. Add meat and cook until no longer pink. Add peppers, beef broth, catsup, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper, and cook uncovered, over low heat for about 10 minutes.

Put meat mixture in a greased baking dish and distribute mashed potatoes on top. Dot with remaining butter and cook at 400 degrees until top is browned, about 30 minutes. Serves four.

MASHED POTATO SOUP

½ cup minced onion

1 small rib of celery including the leaves, chopped fine

1 carrot, grated coarse

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups chicken broth

A little fresh rosemary, minced

2 ½ cups mashed potatoes

1 teaspoon white-wine vinegar

1/3 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan cook onion, celery, and carrot in butter, stirring, until vegetables are tender. Add broth and rosemary, and bring to a boil. Whisk in potatoes, a bit at a time and return to a boil. Whisk in vinegar, parsley, salt and pepper. Soup can be garnished with shredded cheese, crumbled cooked bacon, chopped fresh chives or yogurt. Serves 4 to 6.