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Humble Shepherd's Pie - A Comfort Food Favorite

Shepherd's Pie, also known as Cottage Pie, is made with minced or ground meat and covered with a mashed potato crust. While the recipe's origins are not clear, it's presumed to hail from Britain or Ireland.

Typically, the pie contained lamb meat (since that's what a shepherd would tend to). Over the years, the recipe has been changed in many ways, although one thing remains constant: This savory dish hits the spot on a brisk or chilly day.

Cheesy Shepherd's Pie is a practical way to use up leftover meat and potatoes. It also leaves some room for creativity, allowing you to customize with favorite vegetables and spices.

Adding a creamy, nutty cheese like Jarlsberg to the filling and potato crust gives the dish an especially pleasing taste, fusing all the flavors together. This modest pie may quickly become a family favorite.

Cheesy Shepherd's Pie

Meat Mixture:

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup each chopped onion and green or red pepper

2 cups chopped mushrooms

2 teaspoons Worcestershire, or to taste

2 cups cooked chopped or ground lamb or beef, with fat drained

1 cup shredded Jarlsberg or Jarlsberg Lite cheese

1 cup brown gravy (homemade or store bought)

Topping:

1 cup shredded Jarlsberg or Jarlsberg Lite cheese

2 cups fresh, instant or leftover mashed potatoes

1/2 cup skimmed milk

2 teaspoons dried thyme

Preheat oven to 425F . In large nonstick skillet, saut garlic over medium heat until golden. Add onion and pepper and saut until beginning to brown, about 4 minutes.

Add mushrooms and saut a few minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in Worcestershire, meat, cheese and gravy. Spoon mixture into oval, round or square baking dish.

Combine 4 ingredients for topping and spread this mixture on top (or you can pipe it around the edge of dish). Bake 20 minutes. Serves four.

For more recipes, tips and entertaining ideas, visit www.norseland.com.

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