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Spiffed-Up Cheddar Sirloin Shepherd's Pie

Warm, cheesy casseroles are the bomb on days like today, when it dips below -30 (oh yes!) and I want to warm up with woolly socks and the smell of something warm bubbling in the oven. Shepherd’s pie is perfect couch food – I can curl up and eat it with a spoon – but is also great to portion out into individual baking dishes use ramekins for nights when everyone is eating at different times, so that they can grab their own out of the oven whenever they’re ready for it.

Grated cheddar upgrades the mashed potatoes, and ground sirloin delivers the flavor of steak with the ease and fat content of extra-lean ground beef.

Spiffed-Up Shepherd’s Pie

adapted from the Beef Information Centre.

1 onion, chopped
1 lb (500 g) ground sirloin or extra-lean ground beef
1/4 tsp (1mL) dried thyme
Pepper
1/4 cup (50 mL) Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp (30 mL) tomato paste
1 tbsp (15 mL) all-purpose flour
2 cups (500 mL) frozen mixed vegetables
1 cup (250 mL) low-sodium beef stock
Buttermilk mashed potatoes (recipe follows)
1/2-1 cup grated cheddar cheese

• Cook onion, beef, thyme and pepper (to taste) in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up meat with wooden spoon, until beef is browned and onion is softened, about 10 minutes.
• Reduce heat to medium; stir in Worcestershire Sauce, tomato paste and flour. Stir in vegetables and stock; simmer until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Divide into ramekins or small gratin dishes.
• Stir half of the cheddar into the Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes; spread evenly over beef mixture. Top each with remaining cheddar; bake in 350°F (180°C) oven until lightly golden, about 25 minutes. Broil until topping is rich golden-brown, about 3 minutes if desired.

Makes 4 to 5 servings.

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes: Cover 1-1/2 lb (750 g) potatoes, peeled and cubed, with cold salted water in medium saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain and return to pot over medium heat; heat until dry, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in 1/2 cup buttermilk and 1/4 cup butter; mash until smooth.

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