Shepherd's Pie by way of the Middle East

If you asked me if I have a favorite cookbook, I wouldn’t be able to choose just one. The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden is in my top 10 though! If you’re tired of eating Thanksgiving leftovers by now, but can’t bring yourself to waste that large bowl of leftover mashed potatoes, try Roden’s recipe for

Meat Pie with Mashed Potatoes

. The meat is cooked with cinnamon and allspice and pine nuts, so it was enough of a change from turkey and stuffing that I was quite happy to eat it for dinner today.

The original recipe includes instructions for making mashed potatoes, but I left that out since I had about a pound of leftover mashed potatoes to use up, and instead of cooking in a 10x14 pan (does anybody even have that size?!), I made this a one-pan meal in my trusty oven-safe stainless steel pan. Word of caution: Maybe I’m just scatterbrained, but on more than one occasion I have grabbed onto the very hot handle, so now I place an oven mitt on the handle immediately after I remove the pan from the oven. All of my fingers are rather appreciative of this new precaution.

Serves 4-6

1-2 lbs leftover mashed potatoes, depending on how thick you want your mashed potato layer

2 medium onions, small dice (I used 1 1/2 because my onions were bigger

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil

2 lbs ground lamb or beef

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3/4 tsp allspice

1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted in a dry skillet until golden brown

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons raisins (optional; I left them out because I wasn’t sure about raisins+potatoes, but then sprinkled a few dried currants on my plate and I liked the little sweetness they added.)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Heat a 12-inch deep sauté pan over medium heat. Add the vegetable oil and sauté the onions and garlic until softened and starting to brown, about 5-10 minutes. Add the ground meat, cinnamon, allspice, salt and pepper and break up the meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook until the meat is no longer pink,about 10 minutes. Drain off most of the fat from the pan, and then evenly spread the mashed potatoes on top.

Bake the meat pie for 30 minutes, or until the top starts to brown. I turned on my broiler after 30 minutes so I could get a nice golden crust, just keep an eye on it so you don’t burn the potatoes!