mashed potatoes and gravy casserole

Welcome to CASSEROLE WEEK!  As we work our way through, I will add to the casserole week list as we go so you have a handy list of one dish dinners that are tried and true!

There isn’t much that is more hearty and satisfying than mashed potatoes and homemade gravy.  And when you use long-simmered beef stock, the gravy is full of naturally occurring gelatin and minerals, which benefit digestion.  Homemade stock makes a deep, earthy flavor that you cannot mimic with shortcuts like bouillon cubes.

So I decided to make mashed potatoes and gravy into a casserole that would provide the same savory satisfaction as a big heaping scoop of mashed potatoes with homemade mushroom gravy (my favorite).

While I was at it, I decided that upping the nutritional benefit would just make the casserole better, so I used plenty of sweet onions, finely minced garlic, and local grass-fed beef, layered to perfection.

This casserole is a bit of an homage to cottage pie, sometimes called shepherd’s pie.  I love mashed potatoes on the top of nearly anything, so that is what we do for this Mashed Potatoes & Gravy Casserole.  You cannot really go wrong, especially with a cheesy crust on the top, sprinkled with fresh thyme.

This recipe was adapted from the wonderful book The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever.  You can even get the Kindle version here.  I highly recommend the book, and even though it needs a few real food tweaks here and there, it’s still very traditional food friendly.  They don’t use any semi-condensed soups as the base of their casseroles, for example!

Equipment Needed:

  • measuring cups and spoons
  • good knife, wooden spoon, large stockpot
  • spider-style strainer, mixing bowl, stick (immersion) blender
  • large saucepan, cast iron skillet, garlic press
  • large baking dish, serving spoon

Mashed Potatoes & Gravy Casserole with Grass-fed Beef

mashed potatoes:
8-10 large potatoes, preferably Yukon Gold, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup (2 sticks) butter (find grass-fed butter here)
1 cup fresh cream (find raw milk and cream near you here)
salt and pepper to taste (find unrefined sea salts here, organic peppercorns here)

mushroom gravy:
1/2 cup butter (find grass-fed butter here)
1 pound mushrooms, chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup freshly ground flour (find whole grains here, grain mills here and here)
1 teaspoon sea salt (find unrefined sea salts here)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (find organic peppercorns here)
2 cups Homemade Beef Stock
splash of fresh cream (optional) (find raw milk and cream near you here)

2 tablespoons butter (find grass-fed butter here)
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced or pushed through a garlic press (find a garlic press here)
1 pound grass-fed ground beef (find grass-fed and pastured meats here)
Mushroom Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
2 cups good cheddar cheese, preferably sharp (find grass-fed cheeses here)
fresh thyme, finely minced

  1. Make the mashed potatoes: In a large stock pot, boil the potatoes until fork tender, about 15 minutes.  Drain.  Dump the potatoes into a large bowl with the butter, cream, salt, and pepper.  Use an immersion blender to blend until fairly smooth (though some lumps are fine).  Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Make the caramelized onions and garlic: In a cast iron skillet, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter, then add the onions and saute over medium low heat slowly, until nicely caramelized, about 30 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.  Transfer onion mixture to the bottom of the baking dish, spreading out in an even layer.
  4. Brown the grass-fed beef: In the cast iron skillet, brown the grass-fed ground beef over medium high heat, breaking into smaller pieces.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer meat to the baking dish, spreading out in an even layer.
  5. Make the mushroom gravy: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and onions, stirring to coat with butter.  (The onions and mushrooms will cook down!  Don’t worry.)  Saute until fragrant and reduced in volume by half, about 7-8 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle the flour, salt and pepper over the mixture, stirring to coat the onions and mushrooms.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Then start to pour the beef stock in, very slowly.  Stir continuously until all the stock is added.  Bring the sauce to a simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 5 minutes.  Add the cream, if desired, and stir in.
  7. Pour the mushroom gravy evenly over the onions and browned meat already in the baking dish.
  8. Spoon the mashed potatoes over the mushroom gravy, smoothing out in an even layer as best as you can.  Sprinkle the cheese all over the mashed potatoes.
  9. Place the baking dish on a jelly roll pan lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly.  Then turn on the broiler and broil until the top is nicely browned, about 3 minutes.  Watch it carefully so you don’t burn the cheese layer.  Ahem.  Not because I did that once or anything…Then sprinkle with the fresh thyme.
  10. Serve immediately!