Favorite shepherd’s pie recipe, a classic casserole of Britain and Ireland done American-style. Cook ground beef and savory vegetables, top with mashed potatoes, and bake to perfection.
Shepherd’s Pie comes to us from England, and is traditionally made with lamb or mutton. Here in the states we are more of a beef eating culture than a lamb eating one, and when one is served “shepherd’s pie” here, it is most often made with ground beef.
In England (and Australia and New Zealand) they would call the beef dish a “cottage pie” and the lamb dish “shepherd’s pie”.
Regardless of what you call it, a shepherd’s pie is basically a casserole with a layer of cooked meat and vegetables, topped with mashed potatoes, and baked in the oven until the mashed potatoes are well browned.
When you dig in you get a spoonful of mashed potatoes, some crispy bits, meat, and vegetables all in one bite. It’s pure comfort food.
What follows is a simple recipe for a ground beef version of Shepherd’s Pie. The original recipe comes from my friend Frances Hochschild, and her mother (thanks Frannie!).
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste 3 large (1 1/2 to 2 pounds) potatoes , peeled and quartered 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, divided 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups) 1 to 2 cups mixed vegetables, such as diced carrots, corn, or peas 1 1/2 pounds ground round beef 1/2 cup beef broth 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce Pepper and/or other seasonings of choice
Boil the potatoes: Place the peeled and quartered potatoes in a medium sized pot. Cover with at least an inch of cold water. Add a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until tender (about 20 minutes).
Saute the vegetables: While the potatoes are cooking, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook until tender, about 6 to 10 minutes.
If you are including vegetables, add them according to their cooking time. Carrots should be cooked with the onions, because they take as long to cook as the onions do.
If you are including peas or corn, add them toward the end of the cooking of the onions, or after the meat starts to cook, as they take very little cooking time.
Add the ground beef, then the Worcestershire sauce and broth: Add ground beef to the pan with the onions and vegetables. Cook until no longer pink. Drain the pan of excess fat, if necessary (anything more than 1 tablespoon). Season with salt and pepper.
Add the Worcestershire sauce and beef broth. Bring the broth to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, adding more beef broth if necessary to keep the meat from drying out.
Taste the cooked filling and, if needed, add more salt, pepper, Worcestershire, or other seasonings of your choice.
Mash the cooked potatoes: When the potatoes are done cooking (a fork can easily pierce), remove them from the pot and place them in a bowl with the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter. Mash with a fork or potato masher, taste, and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
Layer the meat mixture and mashed potatoes in a casserole dish: Spread the cooked filling in an even layer in a large baking dish (such as a 9 x 13-inch casserole.
Spread the mashed potatoes over the top of the ground beef. Rough up the surface of the mashed potatoes with a fork so there are peaks that will get well browned. You can even use a fork to make creative designs in the mashed potatoes.
Bake in the oven: Place in a 400°F oven and cook until browned and bubbling, about 30 minutes. If necessary, broil for the last few minutes to help the surface of the mashed potatoes brown.
(Be careful when broiling using Pyrex or glass dishes, they have been known to shatter under the high heat of the broiler. It’s not a worry if you are using a ceramic or metal casserole dish.)
Put a layer of creamed corn between the ground beef and the mashed potatoes.
Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese over the top of the mashed potatoes before baking.
Preheat the oven: Preheat the oven to 400°F.
NUTRITION FACTS(PER SERVING)
Show Full Nutrition LabelNutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.