The combo of rich gravy meat & fluffy mashed potatoes makes this recipe an instant cold weather comfort winner.
My mom has been making Shepherd’s Pie for as long as I can remember. It’s such a hearty and warming dish for the colder months, and harnesses the two basic cornerstones of any comfort dish – meat and potatoes. You can even hide a couple vegetables in there (apparently they’re supposed to be good for you?!).
This dish has a rich ground meat gravy at the bottom, and is sealed into a casserole pan with a layer of fluffy mashed potatoes. As the name may suggest (you know, since shepherds herd sheep and all…) it’s traditionally made with ground lamb. It’s very close cousin, Cottage Pie, is pretty much identical but uses beef instead of lamb.
You can substitute whichever meat you prefer in the recipe below, or even use a combination of both. The best part of all, this pie is so very easy to make and the leftovers taste even better!
In a large, heavy bottom pan (I use an enameled cast iron pot), brown the onions and celery in a little olive oil.
Add in the meat and brown. If you want to build a better depth of flavour, do this in batches so that you don’t overcrowd the pan, otherwise the meat will boil.
Once brown, add in tomato paste, thyme, garlic, Worcestershire, peas & carrots and red wine, stir to combine.
Add in the beef stock – the mix should be quite liquid at this stage. Turn burner to low and allow to reduce until the mixture thickens, about 15-20 mins.
While the meat is simmering, boil the potatoes until tender. Once cooked, mash in a bowl with butter and milk, and whip with a wooden spoon until a soft, fluffy consistency. For SUPER smooth potatoes, pass the boiled taters through a ricer instead of mashing.
Preheat oven to 375f (190c).
Spoon meat mix into a casserole or baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, making sure to spread them to the edges and get a good seal. Take a fork and make a patten on top of the potato to encourage delicious, crispy bits.
Place in oven 25-30 mins, or until top is golden brown.
To make a Shepherd’s Pie, use ground lamb. To turn this into a Cottage Pie, use ground beef.