Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd's Pie, or Cottage Pie as it is commonly referred, is a British or Irish meat pie topped with mashed potatoes.  This dish is dated back to the 1700's when potatoes became an edible option for the poor.  The potato has a very interesting history.  During this time of food shortages, potatoes were touted by the European governments and the upper class as an option to counter the famine of the era.  The peasants were suspicious, but after royalty and the upper class begin cultivating the potato, the poor began farming the feared tubers.  

Once, when making this dish with ground beef, I was told by an Irishman that it was actually "Cottage Pie."  He told me "Shepherd's Pie" was made with lamb.  I think most {Americans} when referring to or making Shepherd's Pie are actually making Cottage Pie, as ground lamb is quite a bit more expensive than ground beef.

The recipe I always use is from Martha.  I think her variation offers awesome flavor and is loved by all who try it.  I've had moms report how their children go back for 2nd's and 3rd's of this dish.  In addition, this is a meal you can make one to serve, one to give away or put in the freezer.  It's great to have an extra meal on hand.

You can make this dinner in a large baking dish or in individual dishes.  I like the individual dishes when serving our family, but it's much easier to give away in the large pan.

Shepherd's Pie

This recipe makes 8 individual servings or two large pies.  Cool pies completely before covering with plastic and freezing up to 3 months.  Reheat frozen pies (small or large) in a 375-degree oven for about an hour.


2 pounds freshly ground beef, or lamb
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons flour
1-2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt & ground pepper
10 ounces frozen peas, thawed
2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 cup milk
6 tablespoons butter

1.  Preheat oven to 425.  Heat a large skillet over high heat.  In two batches, cook lamb (or beef) until  no longer pink, about 5 minutes per batch.  Transfer meat to a colander set in a bowl/ let fat drain off and discard.

I don't always follow directions.  I brown all at one time.

Browned ground beef.

This grease will drain out in the colander.
2.  Add 1/4 cup water to the skillet, scraping up the browned bits with a wooden spoon.  Reduce heat to medium; add onion and carrots.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in tomato paste.  Add flour; cook, stirring, 2 minutes.

I use the Cuisinart to chop the onions and carrots. 

Carrots and onions, cook about 5 minutes until softened.

Add tomato paste.

Sprinkle with flour.

3.  Add Worcestershire sauce (I usually add at least 2 tablespoons), 2 cups water, and meat.  Season with 2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.  Stir in peas; cook 1 minute.  Divide among eight 8-ounce ramekins or two 9-inch glass pie dishes.

Worcestershire and water added.

Meat added.

Okay, I don't thaw my peas...not the end of the world.

Filling just about done, potatoes on.

This is SO good!  I have a hard time not just nibbling away at the meat.

One to give away.

One for our family.

And a cute one!
4.  Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cover potatoes with salted water by 1 inch;  bring to a boil.  Reduce heat;  simmer until fork-tender, 15-20 minutes.  Drain.

Potatoes cooked and ready for mash.

I mash the potatoes in the Kitchen Aid.  If you use a Kitchen Aid, don't overdo it or the potatoes will get tough.  Just enough to mash.

5.  In another small saucepan, bring milk and butter to a simmer;  remove from heat.  Pour milk mixture over cooked, drained, potatoes;  mash.  Season with 2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Spread over pies;  use a fork to make peaks.  Bake on a baking sheet until tops are browned, 25-30 minutes.  Cool slightly; serve.

Milk mixture added.

Oh, so good!

All three, ready to go...and I didn't fork peak them.

One for home...ready to serve.

One to give away, ready to deliver.

One individual.  So cute!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

By browning all your meat together you are not getting the maillard reaction, but instead you are getting stewed meat. You should use a much smaller amount of meat with a higher temp to get that steakhouse like flavor. I would also suggest adding a few egg yolks to your potatoes, forking them so there is more surface area on top and jacking up the broiler at the end to get a more even browning on top.