Loaded Comfort

It seems like winter has dragged on and been downright mean this year. And while there is an end in sight, that won't stop it from tossing a little extra cold and snow our way. So it's time to fight back with comfort food:

This isn't just any comfort food: it's Shepherd's Pie. And it's not just any Shepherd's Pie … it's loaded. What makes it loaded? How about a rich, flavorful base of ground beef and veggies that have been cooked in a bit of bacon fat? How about a layer of mashed potatoes that are brimming with sour cream and garlic? And doesn't a crown of melted cheese, crumbled bacon, and sliced green onions sound just dreamy? And even though it has a few layers, it doesn't take more than an hour to make and it can be assembled in advance. It also works well as a busy weekday meal, if you put it together in advance, and is also equally at home as a company-ready dish. I bet it would also be great for a potluck.

Now, this is really a meal in itself, but you could put together a simple green salad or maybe some green beans or the like as a side dish. Me, I like to pour a glass of red wine or a chilled cider and call that a meal. However you choose to serve it, I say close the blinds and ignore any tantrums Old Man Winter is having outside your windows. Dinner tonight is here to help!

Loaded Shepherd's Pie

  • 2-3 baking potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1" cubes
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6-8 mini sweet peppers, sliced thin
  • 1/2 c. tomato sauce -- choose your favorite variety
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 c. cultured sour cream
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 c. shredded cheese -- choose your favorite variety or blend
  • 3-4 green onions, biased sliced

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Scrub and cube the potatoes and boil them until they are soft enough to mash.

Meanwhile, fry the bacon and crumble it into small pieces. Set aside.

Using the skillet you fried the bacon in, brown the ground beef. When it's nearly done, add the onion, garlic, and sweet peppers and cook until the meat is entirely browned and the vegetables are crisp-tender. Add the tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Pour the mixture into the bottom of a large pie plate and set aside.

Mash the potatoes with the sour cream and garlic powder until you've reached your desired consistency. Using a spatula, layer the potatoes over the meat layer in the pie plate. Sprinkle the top of the potatoes with the crumbled bacon and shredded cheese. Bake the dish in the preheated oven for about a half hour or until the cheese is entirely melted and bubbly. Sprinkle the green onions over the top before serving.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour