On our ride up to Dahlonega, GA, Carolyn gets a call from her sister, whose floor we will be sleeping on for the weekend. After she hangs up, she dauntingly looks over at me and says, “Allison’s cooked dinner. Just try a bite of it to be nice and the we will hit up Waffle House later.” You could hear the shear horror in her voice, and I swear I felt a bit sick to my stomach just thinking about it.
Allison was an unusually bad cook. Trying to be a gracious hostess by cooking us dinner, we were sure it was going to be a disaster. She never managed to make anything beyond ‘Triscut Pizzas’ in the microwave, so the thought of her making vegetarian Shepard’s Pie was a bit daunting for those of us in the car. Would it even be eatable?
After hauling our luggage in and doing the obligatory hellos and catching up, we all sat down to the table. Allison’s Pryex dish was looming in the center on top of a trivet, staring us down. Carolyn went first. After serving herself, she timidly took the fork to her mouth, bit, and chewed for a second. Surprisingly, I didn’t see a gag reflex, but rather a smile starting to form from the corners of her lips.
“Holy shit, Allison! This is fucking good!” she cried, with the manners of a sailor.
Carolyn was right. This Shepherd’s Pie was just the perfect meal for mountain weekend in fall. It was warm, comforting, and beyond filling. For the past 9 years, I’ve made a huge dish of it every month once the temperature drops below 50F. Its one of my comfort food treats where I mourn the end of leftovers. Never again have I questioned Allison’s cooking prowess, and if you try this dish, neither will you!
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- 4 lbs of Russet Potatoes, peeled and sliced widthwise ½ in thick
- 16 ounces of Sour Cream
- 1 T Garlic Salt
- 1 T Safflower Oil, divided in half
- 1 16 ounces Package of Boca Crumbles or other ground meat substitute
- 1 T Shyou or Braggs Liquid Amino Acids
- 1 16 ounces Package of Frozen Mixed Vegetables
- 1 tsp Dried Oregano
- In a large pot, bring 7 cups of water to a boil and add the Potatoes. Boil the Potatoes for 20 minutes, or until the water becomes cloudy and they yield to the pressure of a fork. Strain the Potatoes in a colander, letting the water drain out. Do not rinse them.
- In a large bowl, add the Potatoes, Sour Cream, and Garlic Salt, mashing the ingredients together until they are smooth and creamy. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- In a large skillet, warm up half of the Safflower Oil. Once warm, add the Boca Crumbles and cook until they are defrosted. Stir in the Shyou for flavoring, coating the crumbles. Put the heat on low while you work on the Vegetables in another pan.
- In a medium size skillet, warm up the remaining half of the Safflower Oil. Add the package of Frozen Mixed Vegetables and cook until they are defrosted. Take the Vegetables and add them to the larger pan with the crumbles. Stir the ingredients together, making sure everything is well mixed.
- In a large baking dish, around the size of 9 in. by 14 in., evenly spread the Vegetable mixture along the bottom. Finally, using a large spoon, scoop large helpings of the Mashed Potatoes on top of the Vegetable mixture. With the back of the spoon, carefully press the Potatoes so they cover the Vegetable mixture entirely and cover the baking dish corner to corner.
- Cover the top of the baking dish with aluminum foil. Place the dish in the oven and bake covered for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and continue baking the dish for about another 15 minutes uncovered. Once the Mashed Potatoes begin to brown, remove the Shepherd’s Pie from the oven.
- Let the Shepherd’s Pie cool for 10 minutes. Before cutting and serving, sprinkle the top of the Shepherd’s Pie with the Dried Oregano for a nice looking finish.