Shepherd’s pie is a dish I associate with the English or Irish countryside, although lots of countries seem to have a version of this home cooking staple. It is a comforting preparation of beef or lamb, covered and baked with a mashed potato topping. I have seen it referred to also as Cottage pie (maybe referring to the humble dwellings of its earliest cooks), Potato Top Pie (in New Zealand), Cowboy pie (in Texas—here in the U.S.) and by other names I can’t spell in France, and Canada and in Russia.
It is perfect for a family dinner, dinner for two when you want to have leftovers, as a potluck contribution, or even for entertaining on a cold winter’s night. It is easy to make and fun to experiment with. The meat can be beef or lamb, the vegetables can vary based on what you have in the refrigerator, the topping can be enhanced by adding a handful of cheddar cheese or a sprinkling of your favorite herb. It’s a meal in one, needing only a simple green salad on the side.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Ingredients for the filling:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound ground beef
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
½ cup frozen peas, thawed
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup beef stock or broth
1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Preparation of the filling:
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef and cook, stirring and breaking it up while it browns. Add the carrots and onion and continue to cook until the onion is translucent and the carrots have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the peas and continue to cook for 1 minute.
Sprinkle the flour over the meat mixture and cook, stirring, until the flour is fully incorporated. Add the beef stock, the Worcestershire sauce and the thyme and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened to a gravy consistency. Taste and salt and pepper to your liking.
6 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Preparation of the potato topping:
Place the diced potatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with water, bring to the boil and cook until the potatoes are very tender. Remove from the heat and drain the potatoes in a colander and return them to the hot pan. Add the sour cream, the cream cheese and the butter and whip the potatoes until they are smooth—using a hand mixer. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
To assemble the dish:
Place the meat filling in a buttered, 9” x 13” rectangular or oval baking dish. Top the meat filling with the potato topping, covering the meat completely to the edges of the dish. Sprinkle paprika over the top and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until hot and lightly browned on the top.