Shepard’s Pie

19 Jan

It’s a cold, snowy day here in Pittsburgh — the kind of day that begs for warm, hearty comfort foods eaten in pajamas by a fire. So I decided to take my first crack at a longtime favorite dish: Shepard’s Pie. It’s barely healthy — and definitely not low calorie — but it is filling and deliciously rich. Traditionally it’s made with lamb, but I used ground beef since that’s what I had on hand. The taste definitely did not suffer, especially after a few tweaks to amp up the mashed potato topping.


That's one sexy casserole.


For the filling:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lg onion, diced
  • 1/2 lb baby carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 lb frozen peas
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp butter plus a pat to butter casserole dish
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the topping:

  • 6 medium-sized red potatoes, skin on, boiled and drained
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp horseradish sauce
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (for sprinkling on top of potatoes!)
  • salt and pepper to taste


For filling:

  1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat, add onion and carrot. Cook until onion becomes fragrant and begins to soften, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add raw ground beef to veggies in skillet and season with salt and pepper, garlic powder, thyme and dry mustard. Brown meat over medium heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Drain off fat.
  3. After draining fat, add tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and peas to beef and veggie mixture. Stir to combine.
  4. Sprinkle flour over beef and veggies. Stir until well incorporated and flour taste has “cooked off”, approximately 2 minutes.
  5. Add beef broth all at once and stir to combine. Continue to cook over medium heat until gravy begins to thicken, 5-7 minutes. Set aside.

For topping:

  1. Mash boiled potatoes with butter, heavy cream and milk. Add more milk if necessary to achieve desired consistency.
  2. Add horseradish sauce, sour cream and 1 cup cheddar cheese to mashed potatoes. Stir until cheese has melted. Salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble:

  1. Butter an oval casserole dish and pour in beef filling.
  2. Spoon mashed potatoes over filling, using a spatula or fork to create swirls and ridges.
  3. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheddar.
  4. Bake in 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. Potato crust should be browned and crispy on top; if it isn’t after 30 minute bake time, pop it under the broiler for an additional 3-5 minutes.
Serves six.
As if the pie itself wasn’t enough, I served mine alongside quartered turnips roasted in olive oil with a dash of salt and freshly cracked black pepper (wrap in aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees for one hour), jarred pickled beets and a hunk of crusty bread to mop up the gravy.

A winter masterpiece.


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