I made the stew for this pie using whatever vegetables I had left in the crisper from my last CSA box. That's one of the things I love about making something like this, you can throw in whatever sounds good to you. I like to think of it more as a technique recipe than an exact ingredient recipe.
This combination turned out really tasty. The stew was flavorful & quite mellow with all the flavors blending together instead of one standing out. The mashed potatoes were creamy & rich thanks to the addition of an egg yolk. I highly recommend making Shepherd's Pie on those cold winter nights we have coming up.
1 lb potatoes, peeled & cut into large pieces
2 T half & half
1 T butter
1 egg yolk
salt & pepper
1 T olive oil
2 small leeks, white & light green parts sliced
2 small fennel bulbs , sliced
1 medium carrot, chopped
2 small peppers chopped
3/4 lb lean ground beef
1 T all-purpose flour
3/4 c chicken broth
1 T tomato paste
1/4 c frozen peas
2 T fennel frond, chopped
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes & a dash of salt. Boil the potatoes for 20 minutes until tender. Drain. Return the potatoes to the pot, add the half & half, butter & egg yolk & mash until smooth & fluffy. Salt & pepper to taste. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, fennel bulb, carrots & peppers & cook until the vegetables become tender. Add the ground beef & cook until browned through. Stir in the flour & cook while stirring for a minute. Add the chicken broth & tomato paste & stir until thickened. Add the peas & fennel fronds & stir until just heated.
Divide the beef stew between two 1 1/2 c ramekins. Top with the mashed potatoes. Dot with a little butter if you wish. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet & into the oven. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes until the potatoes are golden brown.