There are some foods that just aren’t meant to be messed with. Updated? Tweaked? Seasoned a little more liberally than how Grandma made them? Absolutely. But the integrity of those things should never be fundamentally changed–things like Sloppy Joes or Chicken Pot Pie or Beef Stroganoff. Or Shepherd’s Pie. The kinds of things you grew up eating as a kid and you want to remember them exactly the way they were, only they never taste exactly like they did, so you have to adjust things, just a little, to account for being a grown-up.

We get lots and lots of requests for Shepherd’s Pie, but we’ve always been a little hesitant to post it because it’s a) not super pretty, so it can be hard to photograph and b) it’s so down home that it’s a little different from what we normally post here. But first of all, it’s St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow and this is a great Irish-ish meal to serve. Also, my husband asks for it on, like, a weekly basis, and since he gracefully and un-complaining-ly has been working crazy hours at work, coaching a team of wild and crazy 7-year-olds in soccer, remodeling our bathroom, putting up with my crazy, and taking care of the kids by himself when Sara and I have been traveling lately, I figured I owed it to him to come up with an awesome Shepherd’s Pie.

One of my biggest gripes about Shepherd’s Pie is that it’s messy. Also, the real and proverbial icing on the cake is the mashed potatoes, which everyone except for my ridiculously picky 7-year-old is magnetically and subconsciously attracted to, so somehow the potatoes go missing long before everything else. My solution? Shepherd’s Pie in a Jar.  The jar keeps the mess contained and it also lets you portion out the mashed potatoes so everyone gets their fair share. Except for (again), my son, who can knock them off onto his plate and skip them like a weirdo.

I’m not even going to post a picture of the ingredients because I forgot, like, half of the most important ingredients. Immediately before I took said picture, I walked into my daughter’s preschool classroom to pick her up, looked around at all the kids, and said, “Hey, is Meredith in here?” Yeah, she was standing right in front of me. I’m losing my freaking mind. But you’ll need ground beef (or lamb, if you’re wanting to be super authentic), onion, garlic, mixed veggies (I like peas and carrots…long story, but I’m not a fan of green beans in with my mixed veggies even though I love green beans), flour, beef broth, V8, red wine vinegar, parsley, thyme, seasoned salt, mashed potatoes, Parmesan cheese, and cheddar cheese. Yes, it’s a lot of ingredients. No, they’re not weird. Make extras and freeze ’em.

In a large saucepan of skillet, brown ground beef with onion and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until the meat is browned and the onions and garlic are tender and fragrant.

Add the frozen veggies and cook, stirring frequently, until most of the moisture has evaporated.

Add seasoned salt, parsley, thyme, and Tabasco and stir until combined. Add the flour and stir until completely coated.

Add the vinegar, V8 juice, and beef broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thickened (about 15 minutes).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

While the beef mixture is simmering, prepare the potatoes according to your preference. Add the Parmesan and sharp cheddar cheeses. Spoon into a gallon-sized heavy-duty Ziploc bag and set aside.

Place 6 8-ounce canning jars on a baking sheet.

When the beef mixture is done simmering, season to taste and then ladle the beef mixture into the canning jars.

Cut the corner off the Ziploc bag and pipe onto the beef mixture. Place in oven for 15 minutes and bake until lightly browned on top. Serves 6.

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