2clovesgarlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
1teaspoonsalt, I use coarse, kosher salt
½teaspoonblack pepper, I use coarsely ground black pepper
2 ½cupslow sodium beef or chicken broth
½cupfrozen corn kernels
1-2cupsshredded sharp cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lay out six pieces of aluminum foil (large enough to wrap around the potatoes). Grab a cold stick of butter from the fridge, open one end, and rub butter all over the center of the foil, leaving about a 2-inch border on all sides of the foil. Sprinkle salt and pepper lightly over the butter (garlic powder would be yummy, too).
Place a potato in the center of the butter section and roll up the foil, covering the potato completely. Pierce the potato (through the foil) about 5-6 times with the tines of a fork. Place all the potatoes in an even layer on a baking sheet and bake for an hour (more or less, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife).
While the potatoes bake, make the topping. In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat, add the ground meat, onion, carrots, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook, breaking the meat into small pieces, until the meat is no longer pink and the vegetables are starting to soften, 5-7 minutes or so. Drain any excess grease from the mixture.
Sprinkle the flour over the meat and cook over medium to medium-high heat for a minute or so, stirring constantly. Stir in the tomato paste, broth, Worcestershire sauce, oregano and thyme. Bring to a simmer and continue to simmer gently for 10 minutes until the mixture is thickened and the carrots are tender. If you'd like the mixture more saucy/less thick, add additional broth, as needed and simmer to warm through.
Stir in the corn and peas and simmer until heated through. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
To serve, gently unwrap the hot baked potatoes. Slice down the middle of each one to open it up (squeezing the ends in toward each other can help create somewhat of a "bowl" shape in the potato or you can dice the potato into large chunks, too). Sprinkle a little shredded cheese on the potato, top with the Shepherd's Pie filling and then more cheese, if desired. Serve immediately.
Favorite Combination: I have to say, this flavorful meat mixture over a tender sweet potato (topped with a healthy amount of sharp cheddar cheese) is a heavenly, heavenly combo. If you are on the fence about what kind of potatoes to use, trust me on this one, and go for the sweet potatoes. Slow Cooker: like I mention in my post, I've made the Shepherd's Pie filling and transferred it to a slow cooker to keep warm for several hours for a helpful make-ahead option. You may need to add a bit of extra broth, so just keep an eye on that if it starts looking a little dry.