Countdown to Christmas 2015 Day 7: Beef Shepherd Pie Tarts – Perfect Winter Comfort Food

There is just something truly comforting about shepherd pies especially in the cold winter months. It’s something Mom always made with leftover Sunday roast.  Again that was just one more ingenious way to stretch our money and revamp leftovers into something amazing and new. Full confession though when Mom made mine she made it pretty simple – no chunks of onions, carrots or anything “gross” (i.e., veggies other than canned peas).  Yeah I was that picky kid but as you can see by not only this recipe but all of my other ones, I’ve definitely come a long way.

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It’s funny as when I was a kid almost all of my friends were the same way – very picky, onions and most veggies were a no-no and dear God if you tried to get us to drink kale smoothies or hummus we would have laughed in your face.  Now that we are a nation of foodies, kids are growing up with a new love of food and even a bigger appreciation of the ingredients.

See Mom, we listened – veggies are good for us and they taste good!  Well okay, I’m still not sold on raw onions or tomatoes.  And yeah, never on a cherry – ever but I now realize and understand how these items in cooking, and baking, can add such incredible depths of flavor.  I mean just the other day I made candied yam and butterscotch muffins.  I know, right!  And here’s the kicker – they were probably one of the best muffins I have ever had in my life!

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This recipe honestly was all part of a leftover repurpose need.  You see I had leftover Beef Tenderloin and I didn’t want to waste it or just freeze it as-is. As I was rummaging through the fridge I also spied some leftover mashed potatoes and immediately I thought of my Mom’s beef shepherd pies. Mom’s were a bit different though as she didn’t put hers in a pastry crust.  I just prefer that as like that element the crust gives it and anytime I can incorporate pie crust into dinner, WIN!

Beef Shepherd Pie Tarts Collage
If you’ve cheated and scrolled all the way to the bottom for the recipe you’ll see I give you two options for the crust.  You can make my savory pie crust or if you’re short on time you can just buy some pre-made crescent dough.  If you do the latter, buy the sheets (it’s crescent dough without the seams in it). If your store doesn’t have it you can use regular crescent dough just be sure to press the seams together before making the tart circles.

Beef Shepherd Pie Tarts3Another thing you’ll see is in this recipe I used my beef tenderloin leftovers however I do get that beef tenderloin isn’t cheap. Unless you have a money tree, we all have to be mindful of our budget.  That being said you can do as my Mom did and just use leftover pot roast.  Heck in a pinch you can even use cooked ground meat. Any soft and tender type of beef will work.

Now as you see I made these as individual ones however feel free to make them as a family-sized one.  With my having surgery I wanted to make a bunch of individual ones and then freeze them. This is one recipe you can’t just assemble and then put in the freezer.  You have to bake them fully first, flash freeze and then double wrap to store for up to 3 months.

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I’m not sure if you can really tell how big these are but they are a hefty individual portion.  The tart pan itself is 4.75″ round and while they are only about 1″ high, they are packed to the brim with awesomeness.  So when I make these, this is all I serve.  Think of it this way – you have your meat, your veggies, your side and your bread.  You really don’t need anything else – well okay maybe a slice of Swirled Orange Cheesecake Cranberry Orange Bundt Cake of dessert.

Beef Shepherd Pie Tarts
So when you open up the fridge and spy some beef leftovers, repurpose them and transform it into these super awesome beef shepherd pies.  Have one for dinner and pop the rest in the freezer.  So when Mother Nature decides to have a winter hissyfit and dump a buttload of snow in your town or get wicked cold you won’t have to worry about venturing outside the house (or having to put on pants).  You can just grab one from your freezer, pop it into the oven at 350F and reheat for 15-25 minutes.


Beef Shepherd Pie Tarts - Perfect Winter Comfort Food
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  • 2 batches of Savory Pie Dough or 2 tubes of premade crescent rolls dough sheets
  • 3 cups Beef Tenderloin , cooked and rough chopped
  • 4 Tbl butter, unsalted
  • 1 Tbl olive oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 cup of frozen peas (or no sodium canned – rinsed well)
  • 16 ounces of beef stock
  • 3 Tbl flour
  • 1 cup of beef gravy
  • 1/2-1 cup heavy cream *optional
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1/2-1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1-2 tsp fresh black pepper
  • 3 cups mashed potatoes (already seasoned with salt & pepper), warmed
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  1. If using the savory pie dough preheat oven to 400F with the rack in the middle. If using crescent rolls, preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. If using a savory pie dough, roll out the dough in a rectangle on a lightly floured board to 1/4” thick. If using crescent rolls, remove from the tube and place on the lightly floured board – do not roll.
  3. Measure out a 5.75” round circle for each tart. I’m using 6 4.75"round removable bottom tart pans so you want your dough to be 1” bigger than the base of the pan.
  4. Place the rounds in the pan and press up the sides.
  5. Trim top edge of crust so it is even with the pan.
  6. If using the savory pie dough, prick the crust with a fork several times and bake until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. Do not do this for the crescent rolls.
  7. While the savory dough is baking, heat the oil and 2 Tbl of butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.
  8. When the butter begins to foam up, toss in the onion, celery and carrot and cook over low heat until softened, ~10-13 minutes.
  9. Add in the flour and stir; cook for 3 minutes.
  10. Add in the stock and stir well.
  11. When the mixture thickens, add in 1 cup of cream and mix to combine.
  12. Cook for 3 minutes and add the beef into the pan.
  13. Cook for 2 minutes.
  14. Stir in the gravy and cook until bubbling around the edges. *if the mixture is too thick, add in the cream and stir until all combined and the mixture has just started to re-thicken.
  15. Remove from the heat, stir in the thyme and peas
  16. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
  17. While the mixture in cooling, mix the mashed potatoes with the beaten egg and mix well to incorporate.
  18. Melt the remaining 2 Tbl of butter.
  19. In the dough lined tart pan, evenly divide the filling about 2/3rd of the way up.
  20. Spread the potatoes over the filling as evenly as possible leaving small peaks (for presentation).
  21. Brush or drizzle the top with the melted butter.
  22. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until the topping is lightly browned and the filling is bubbling.
  23. The last 3-5 minutes turn on your broil to brown the potatoes slightly.
  24. Let the tarts stand for about 10 minutes before removing from the tart pan and serving.
I love these 4.75"round removable bottom tart pans as they are nonstick and a breeze to clean!

To freeze, bake completely and allow to cool. Once cooled, place the individual tarts on a pan and place in the freezer (uncovered) for about an hour or until frozen. You want to flash freeze these. Once frozen, remove from the oven, double wrap in plastic wrap then aluminum foil. Label and freeze for up to 3 months.

To reheat, unwrap and place on a baking sheet in a 350F preheated oven. Reheat for 15-25 minutes or until warmed all the way through.


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