What do you think of when I ask you to think of a midcentury “meat and potatoes” meal? Did you think of a pot roast with a side of mashed potatoes? I hope so. Because this recipe as based on Planned Overs from your roast, potatoes, and gravy.
I used to ask the butcher for the smallest roast when I first started on this homemaking journey. After all, there are only two of us. And the price of a roast can add up quickly, even if it is on sale. Now, however, I understand that a roast can be quite economical if I think in terms of Planned Over Freezer Cooking™. Not only can I use it for Sunday dinner and sandwiches for The Mister, but I’m usually able to get about two good-size casseroles out of a 3-4 pound roast (remember, this is for two people).
Shepherd’s Pie is an Iconic Mid-century Meat Stretcher Comfort Food
Before I go forward, I have to address the name issue. In the American vintage recipes I’ve seen, shepherd’s pie can pretty much mean any meat pie topped with potatoes. In fact, the recipes indicate that any leftover meat can be successfully used for this type of casserole. That said, my research tells me that in other parts of the world, it is only called a shepherd’s pie when lamb is used (hence, the “shepherd” in the name). Use other meat and it is known as a cottage pie.
I’m not going to picky about what it is called. My primary purpose is to show that you can take two cups of leftover roast–of any animal persuasion–toss it with some veggies and gravy, top it with some mashed potatoes and you end up with a six-serving casserole.
Any name you call it, this is a tasty way to reduce the amount of meat we eat while stretching our grocery budgets.
Potato Choice Matters for Freezer Cooking
You’ll want to make your mashed potatoes out of a low-starch potato such as red or Yukon to make this a Planned Over Freezer Cooking ™ recipe. Russet and other starchy potatoes have a tendency to get grainy when frozen. Also, use cream and butter when mashing the potatoes for the best freezing outcome.
Planning Ahead for Your Planned Overs
When you make your Sunday roast, make enough gravy so that you’ll have 2 cups leftover for the shepherd’s pie. Depending upon the shape of your casserole dish, you will need 3 1/2 to 4 cups of leftover mashed potatoes. The filling requires 2 cups of cubed cooked meat and two cups of cooked vegetables. Almost any vegetables will do but the ones that hold their shape, like peas, carrots, and green beans work the best. Toss in whatever you have left over!
My Planned Over Freezer Cooking ™ Strategy
I cook my first meal on Sunday, making sure I’ll have enough planned overs for the shepherd’s pie. I usually cube two cups of the leftover meat before putting everything in the refrigerator.
On Tuesday, I mix the gravy, cubed meat, and vegetables together and spread them into the casserole. I warm up the potatoes because they are easier to spread over the meat mixture when warm. Trust me on this. Learn from my bloppy mistakes. At this point, you may decide the potatoes need to be thinned down a little bit to make them easier to spread.
I then sprinkle some Parmesan cheese over the top because, well, I like it. Bake for about 30 minutes in a 450ºF oven until lightly brown and the meat mixture is heated through.
But wait! There’s more!
Since there are only two of us and this casserole makes six servings, I freeze the planned overs in two-serving glass containers.* One night of cooking the casserole, four entrees. To reheat, I remove the lid from the container, cover it with foil, and warm in a 350ºF until heated through. I don’t like the texture when it is reheated in the microwave but that’s just me.
This recipe is so easy that if you are feeding more than two people, you can create and cook multiple casseroles at the same time. Serve one casserole and freeze the other ones in the casserole dish.*
- 2 cups cubed leftover cooked meat
- 2 cups cooked leftover vegetables such as carrots, peas, onions, and green beans
- 2 cups leftover gravy
- 3 1/2 - 4 cups leftover mashed potatoes (low starch if you are planning on freezing the casserole)
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 425ºF.
- Combine the meat, vegetables, and gravy in a 2-quart casserole. Mix thoroughly.
- Spread mashed potatoes evenly on top to create a "crust."
- Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the potato crust
- Bake for 30 minutes until lightly browned and the meat-vegetable mixture is heated through.
- This recipe is ideal for Planned Over Freezer Cooking™ if low-starch potatoes are used. You can also freeze the combined meat, vegetable, and gravy mixture and finish creating the casserole with the potatoes on the night you serve this entree.
- To reheat, place in oven at 350º for about 20 minutes or until heated through.
- Sautéed cabbage is a good side dish for this casserole.
Do you have memories of having shepherd’s pie growing up? Do you make it? If so, what is in your pie?
I hope you enjoy this easy to make, toss in the oven, toss in the freezer, and reheat at your convenience planned over!
To your Technicolor life,