RECIPE

Hungarian-Style Shepherd’s Pie

Who doesn’t love Hungarian goulash? And who doesn’t love shepherd’s pie? Whenever I sit down to come up with a recipe for comfort food, I often think of how to mash up two different comfort foods into a single win-win.

Ingredients

  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 2 pounds top sirloin or sirloin tips, cut into bite-size pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • Flour, for dredging
  • 4 tablespoons EVOO
  • 1 large onion or 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 or 3 medium carrots, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/4 cup sweet paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • Leaves from 1 or 2 sprigs fresh marjoram, chopped, or 2 teaspoons dried
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 pounds starchy potatoes (such as russets), peeled and diced
  • 2 or 3 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 to 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • A handful of fresh dill, parsley, or chives, finely chopped

Preparation

Char the red pepper all over on the stovetop over a gas flame or under the broiler with the oven door ajar to let steam escape. Place the pepper in a bowl and cover tightly. When cool enough to handle, rub off the skin with a paper towel, then halve, seed, and chop the pepper.

Meanwhile, pat the meat dry and season liberally with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour. In a Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the EVOO (2 turns of the pan) over medium-high heat. Add the meat and brown on all sides (in batches, if necessary). Transfer to a plate. Pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons EVOO (2 turns of the pan). Add the onion, carrots, garlic, paprika, caraway, and marjoram and cook to soften the onion, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir 1 minute. Stir in the beef stock and Worcestershire and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and slide the meat and roasted pepper into the pot. Cook until beef is just tender, about 30 minutes.

While the goulash simmers, in a saucepan of salted water, boil the potatoes and parsnips until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, return to the hot pot, and mash with the butter, sour cream, egg, and herb of choice. Season with salt and pepper.

If making this to serve on Cook Day, preheat the broiler with the rack in the middle position. Otherwise, follow the make-ahead directions below.

Scrape the goulash into 9 by 13-inch baking dish and top with the mashed potatoes.

Make-ahead: Cool and refrigerate.

Night of: Return the casserole to room temp while you preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake until heated through and the potatoes are browned on top, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

For the Cook Day version, broil the casserole until the potatoes are golden at edges 5 to 7 minutes.

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