Thursday, August 2, 2012

Italian Shepard Pie (crockpot)

Go ahead... grab a fork!!

This is a recipe I long ago tweaked to fit my family's busy lifestyle.  I love Shepard's pie, ADORE IT!!  However it can be quite time consuming as you know to make for a busy mom during the work week.  
"Never fear... Didi is here"!!! ;-)  {I like the ring of that}

This dish certainly can be made with ground beef only as the traditional way... 

However, I wanted to kick it up more than a few notches, simply  because I literally love vegetables.  Any kind, any day, anyhow... I adore them!!  I've taught my family to do so as well.  Well the occasional,  "I hate coleslaw and sprouts thingie", but alas...

So I created this dish for the base of the shepherds pie to  be cooked in the crock pot, chock full of vegetables.  But the best part was using Italian sausage as the base.  Can you say "absolutely out of this world good"?? 

Ready for the recipe?  Here we go?

Ingredients Pie Base:

5 Italian Sausage links (1lb) casings removed and crumbled
2 yellow/orange/red (whatever you have on hand) peppers largely diced
3 cups button bella mushrooms sliced in half
1 large onion largely diced
3 carrots largely diced
2 celery stalks largely diced
2 small zucchini largely diced
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp each salt & pepper
1 tsp granulated garlic powder
1 14.5 can beef broth
**1/3 cup instant mashed potatoes (to be added after cooking)

**1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (to be added after cooking)
**1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley ( to be added after cooking)

Ingredients Mashed Potatoes:

8 medium potatoes peeled and cubed
1 tsp dried thyme
Pinch of pepper
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
4 tbsp butter
1/2 cups milk
1/2 tsp salt

Additional Ingredients:

1/4 cup Pecorino/Romano (or any sharp cheese, Asiago etc)
1/2 tsp paprika
Pinch of pepper

1)  In a large skillet add your 3 tbsp of olive oil and heat to high, add your casings removed sausage and saute till no longer pink.

Prepare your crock pot by drizzling 1 tbsp olive oil and coating it.  

2)  Dice all your veggies and and place in crock pot.  I usually do this the night before except for the mushrooms and keep them in water till the next morning when I'm ready to prepare this.

3) Add your dried seasonings over the veggies and finally add your sausage. Pour in your beef stock.  Cover and cook on high for 3-1/2 - 4 hours or on low for 6-1/2 - 7 hours.  This will ensure nicely cooked vegetables without them becoming mushy.

4) When you come home, remove the shepard's pie base mixture from the crock pot and using a slotted spoon (you don't want all the excess juices), add the mixture to a pre coated 13 x 9 casserole dish).  Add in your instant potato flakes, your Parmesan cheese and finally your fresh parsley.  Stir thoroughly and  set aside to cool.

5) As the base is cooling, let's start on the decadent mashed potato topping!
Peel and cube your potatoes and place in pan with enough water and a few pinches of salt till nice and tender, about 15-20 minutes.

6) Once cooked till tender, drain and return potatoes back to pan.  Using a hand masher, mash larger chunks etc.  Add remaining ingredients except the Parmesan cheese and egg into the hot potatoes.  Using a hand mixer now, whip till nice and creamy.

Now add your egg & Parmesan cheese and whip again.  Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375F.

7) Spread the whipped mashed potatoes over the base mixture and spread evenly.

8) Sprinkle Pecorino Romano cheese along with the paprika and pepper.

bake for 35-45 minutes till topping is nicely golden brown.  Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes.
This would be a perfect time to slice up some fresh tomatoes to go with this, or toss together a salad.

9)  Cut into squares, try and contain yourself, heaven's knows I had to!!!

10)  Plate onto plate and serve with your favorite salad or vegetable, grab yourself a glass of wine and enjoy!!  Knowing you made this amazing gourmet meal in 1 hour on a work week night!!  *cheers my friends*

Till next time!!

Dishin with Didi


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you sissy!! It was so darn good, I gotta be honest!! I just finished cleaning up and packing lunches, grabbed myself another glass of wine and am ready to play!! ;-)

  2. Very unique! I love shepards pie too! I made a sloppy joe version one time! I love the looks of yours too! It's a yummer! =)

    1. I love, love Italian sausage Lillian, I could like live on it! ;-)
      Thank you!!!

  3. Love my crockpots, particularly now when our oven is on the blink!! Also love Shephard's pie. This will be a hit. Thank you for sharing!


    1. You are most welcome my friend... what is going on with your oven??? Oh no!!!!

    2. It died. It was over 25 years old, a workhorse & I loved it! I've been shopping/looking for days trying to figure out what to replace it with. I really wanted a high-end, fancy, schmancy oven, but we did a major remodel of master bath this year and those kind of $'s are just not in the game. Sigh.

    3. I hear ya...
      Were constantly remodeling!! Were the 2nd owners of this house it being almost 39 years old, and let me tell you, the first owners did NOTHING!!
      Hubby just finished the bathroom, other than minor trimmings and the new toilet kept leaking. He was beyond himself and finally called a plumber. The plumber came today $$ later, the toilet is defective. That's after all the money out for hubby trying to fix the leak and the toilet, it was a Kohler!!
      So out goes the toilet, AGAIN. He returned it to the Orange store and they also refunded all the parts he tried to fix it with, plus they will contact Kohler for the cost of the plumber.
      Thursday the "plumber" is coming to install the toilet. If anything goes wrong we can always call them back...
      I'm telling you!!!

      I bought a stove within the last yr, you see it in the pics I post, it's a Whirlpool 5 burner convection, gas.
      I love it!! Wanted a very high end, alas...

      Maybe when the kids will be done with highschool then college... but by then I'll be too old to cook, lol!!

    4. Thanks for the tip on the Whirlpool. Definitely going with the convection. I actually have been holding off (too hot to cook anyway) hoping for a cash windfall for a high end one!! Not going to happen.

      And sorry to hear about your bathroom toilet!! If it's not one thing, it's another. Our house is 65 yrs. old (and for most of the west coast, that is old!) Every time we update, we run into the strangest stuff. It's like, "WTH were they thinking!" And we have been in it for 25 years. Thought it was going to be a short stay 25 yrs ago as hubby was transferred a lot early in career, I thought, "o, it's a cute little old house. I can live here a few years." 5 years later I hated it, really hated it. Everything was dated and didn't work right (except my oven!) I don't know if I changed or what, but somehow along the way I grew to love it. It's home and it's all paid for.

      They are all money pits however. But you gotta live somewhere! And I loved the pics of your backyard in the storm. How lovely! (Your backyard, not the storm. lol.)

    5. Money pits is "key word" my friend!! LOL

      Thank you for the compliment, it's like an oasis when the cushions are out and the canopy is on...
      I have the cushions in deep browns and oranges and reds, and a little green thrown in there for good measure ;-) The canopy is tan and everything looks so inviting with the black iron cast furniture and accessories. Hubby installed outlets so most of the time when I'm posting I'm outside and the dogs are lounging nicely on the cushions... hehehe