Shepherds Pie Recipe

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

shepherds-pie-6

My first introduction to shepherd’s pie was in the lunch line at my high school cafeteria.  That was many more moons ago than I’d care to share.  But, not so long ago that I don’t still remember.  I’d never heard of it before and had no idea what it was.  All I knew was that it was some kind of meat covered with mounds of mashed potatoes.  That was enough for me to give it a try.  And, I liked it, which was more than I can say about the rest of the so called food they served in that cafeteria.  It may have been mystery meat, but it was pretty darn tasty mystery meat.

I never thought much about shepherd’s pie after high school, and spent many years contentedly living my life without it.  It wasn’t until about four years ago, when I found myself in Scotland, that shepherd’s pie and I were reacquainted – and became BFFs.

The exact origin of shepherd’s pie is a bit sketchy.  By some accounts, it is a British dish.  By others, it’s an Irish one.  Still others, swear that the dish’s roots are Scottish.  The only thing that most will agree on is that it came from somewhere over the pond.  I say, who cares?  I’ve enjoyed it in all three countries and have never tasted a version that I didn’t love. 

Shepherd’s pie  is a savory dish made with a meat base – usually ground lamb, beef or a combination of the two -  that is simmered in a brown sauce with vegetables, topped with potatoes and baked to burnished perfection. From what I gather, the dish was created by resourceful housewives as a way to use up leftovers. It makes sense.  Take a little of this and a bit of that, bake it all together in a pie and voilà!  It’s not leftovers anymore.  It’s a whole new and delicious dinner.  I don’t think there is one right way to make it either, as I’ve seen and heard of it done many different ways with an assortment of ingredients.

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It’s been a little gray and dreary lately here in SGCC Land!  We’re not getting slammed by the same bitter cold, icy blast  that many of my blog brethren are, but it’s still pretty miserable just the same.   The wind is howling and blowing something fierce outside.  I’m just praying that none of those low-lying branches perched over my roof decide to break loose and fall on my house!  When the weather gets like this my body craves hearty, rustic comfort foods that warm from the inside out.  A shepherd’s pie is the perfect thing.

Making a shepherd’s pie is pretty easy peasy.  For my pie, I used a mixture of ground lamb and beef.  I also added some onions, carrots, peas and corn.  I don’t know about you, but I just can’t eat mashed potatoes without corn.  It must be some kind of personality defect.

The first thing you need to do is sauté your onions and carrots in a frying pan.  Then, add the meat, seasonings and some stock, and let it all simmer for a while.

Shepherd's Pie collage-1-web

I thicken the mixture with a little flour, but you don’t really have to if you don’t want to.  I just think it gives a little more body to the sauce.  I also use frozen peas and corn, but if you’re a perfectionist and have loads of extra time on your hands, by all means, use fresh.   But, I’m here to tell you that, in this dish, it really doesn’t make a difference.

Once your meat and veggies are happily bubbling away in their sauce, it’s time to top the pie with some potatoes.  Most people use mashed potatoes for shepherd’s pie, but I’ve seen it done before with sliced potatoes and even hash browns.  I may try it that way one day, but for now, I’m going with mashed.

I like to use my biggest cast iron skillet to make shepherd’s pie.  Doing all of the sautéing, simmering and baking  in one pan, makes things that much easier.  If you love washing extra dishes, you can certainly use a separate casserole dish to bake your pie.  Far be it from me to rain on anyone’s parade.   One thing I do recommend, though, is setting your pie on a baking sheet in the oven.  That sucker bubbles like crazy and tends to drip all over.

Shepherd's Pie collage-2-web

AHHH! Now, doesn’t just looking at this shepherd’s pie make you feel all warm and cozy?

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Enjoy!

32 responses to Shepherds Pie Recipe

  1. On January 11, 2011 at 12:22pm, Rosa said...

    I love that speciality! as a matter of fact I ate a Cottage pie on saturday… Yours looks delicious.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  2. On January 11, 2011 at 1:06pm, Karen said...

    I just finished throwing together a Shepherds Pie by using my leftover spaghetti meat sauce on the bottom, next a layer of leftover green beans followed by thinly sliced fresh mushrooms, then several slices of Provalone cheese and followed by leftover mashed potatoes. I then sprinkled top of potatoes with creole seasoning and finished with grated cheddar cheese!! Looks yummy and hopefully will hit the spot on this bleak wintery day!

    • On January 11, 2011 at 6:24pm, Susan said...

      Oooh! Shepherd’s Pie Italian-style. Sounds great! :)

  3. On January 11, 2011 at 1:33pm, Rachel (S[d]OC) said...

    Warm and cozy? Well yes, but not for the peas. :-) Yes, my pea-phobia follows me everyone.

    I think Ireland may have the default clain on Shepherd’s Pie since every faux Irish pub around here sells it.

    If you want your pie to be nice and trashy, you can top it with Tater Tots!

    • On January 11, 2011 at 6:26pm, Susan said...

      Trust me, they have it all over the UK and Ireland. It’s everywhere!

      Love the Tater Tots idea! :D

  4. On January 11, 2011 at 2:44pm, JanaStarlite said...

    You gotta top this with grated cheddar cheese. Every recipe I’ve tried and every dish of it I’ve eaten have had cheddar on top. It’s a must. Your recipe sounds WAY better than any other I’ve seen in a while and it came just in time! Perfect for blustery, cold and/or wet days!!

    Thanks so much. Can’t wait to try this version!!

    • On January 11, 2011 at 6:27pm, Susan said...

      Hmmm. I never had it served with cheese unless it was requested. But, who could find fault with some yummy Irish cheddar?!?!

  5. On January 11, 2011 at 6:16pm, Donna said...

    Love Shepherd’s Pie and make it often… Our recipes are very similar except I too top with shredded chedder ☺☺☺ Thanks
    {{{HUGS}}}

  6. On January 11, 2011 at 6:43pm, Suze said...

    I’ve always “winged it” when it came to Shepherd’s Pie, but this recipe sounds so scrummy I’m going to give it a try. It’ll be perfect for dinner during tomorrow’s blizzard!

    My favorite variations are ground turkey, and using mashed/whipped cauliflower in place of the potatoes. I’ll bet a sweet potato topping would be luscious as well…

    • On January 13, 2011 at 10:16am, Susan said...

      I’ve also gone the ground turkey route, but the mashed cauliflower idea is brilliant!

  7. On January 11, 2011 at 7:57pm, Amy said...

    Looks great! I love Shepherd’s pie and this looks really similar to how I usually make it. Yummy and perfect for winter.

  8. On January 11, 2011 at 8:39pm, bellini said...

    I love mine with a layer of creamed corn which is more reminiscent of Pate Chinois. This is one of my ULTIMATE comfort foods!!!

    • On January 13, 2011 at 10:18am, Susan said...

      Oooh! Creamed corn! Definitely trying that next time. :)

  9. On January 11, 2011 at 10:14pm, Phyllis Kirigin said...

    Comfort food at its best! Layers of creamy savory goodness!

    sweetpaprika.wordpress.com

  10. On January 11, 2011 at 11:15pm, Jane said...

    The recipe I make is very similar with Worcestershire, but only tomato sauce in the meat base so no need to thicken because no extra water/broth. Mine also calls for a beaten egg mixed into the mashed potatoes and w/cheddar on top before baking. The first time I read about the egg in the recipe I thought it was the most oddball thing I had seen but it makes them really light and fluffy.

    I had never seen Shepherd’s Pie before going to college in the South and it always looked a little suspect in the cafeteria, but DH has always loved it so I tried several different versions before hitting on one similar to yours. We eat it a couple times a month in the winter. The kids and DH fight over who gets leftovers for lunch.

    • On January 13, 2011 at 10:20am, Susan said...

      I’ve also seen versions using tomato paste in the filling. For me, the ketchup is easier because I always have an open bottle in the fridge. Love the idea of using an egg in the potatoes!

  11. On January 11, 2011 at 11:26pm, Victoria said...

    Love some sheperd pie….this recipe sounds so much better than the one I have. I’m going to make yours this weekend. We have 8 more inches of snow predicted tonight….burrrrrrrr It’s cold here.

    • On January 13, 2011 at 10:21am, Susan said...

      Yikes! Stay warm! :o

  12. On January 11, 2011 at 11:33pm, Anne Galivan said...

    My favorite food in the whole wide world is mashed potatoes so you know I love shepherd’s pie. I’ve been making it for years (though I realize reading this post that I don’t make it as often as I’d like to!)

    I prefer to make it with green beans rather than corn and peas. And when I want to make it really easy I use the refrigerated ready-made mashed potatoes to top it. I also recommend sprinkling it with some shredded sharp cheddar cheese before baking. It adds a great flavor!

    • On January 13, 2011 at 10:23am, Susan said...

      Must confess, I have also used those pre-made potatoes. If you add enough butter and cream, you can hardly tell the difference.

  13. On January 12, 2011 at 12:57pm, Lucy said...

    I love a good Shepherds Pie and your pictures are making me crave some on this cold night! Delicious :D

    • On January 13, 2011 at 10:24am, Susan said...

      Thanks! How have you been, Lucy? :)

  14. On January 13, 2011 at 9:43am, Kelly said...

    Love shepherd’s pie and haven’t made it in a while, so after seeing yours, of course I want some. Having just been to England this past fall and stopping in far too many pubs, I can say that it’s always on the menu, and made with lamb. So good!

    • On January 13, 2011 at 10:25am, Susan said...

      Oh, yes! When I was in the UK, I ate it in every pub and cafeteria I visited. I also loved it with the meat served up in jacket potatoes.

  15. On January 13, 2011 at 6:34pm, Jenn @LeftoverQueen said...

    Happy New Year Susan and family! This is a great dish – and certainly one of my go-to ones now that we live in a colder climate! I just made one last week to take to a potluck! So good!

    • On January 19, 2011 at 8:15am, Susan said...

      Thanks, Jenn! Happy New Year to you too! Hope you’re staying warm up there! :)

  16. On January 13, 2011 at 7:15pm, Steve Zussino - Canadian Coupons said...

    My wife made this on the weekend for us.

    Mmm – I love the peas inside and large helping of spuds.

  17. On January 14, 2011 at 6:41am, Jennifer said...

    Shepherd’s Pie is the perfect food for this winter. Thanks for reminding me of it. Your site is beautiful.

    • On January 19, 2011 at 8:15am, Susan said...

      Thank you! :)

  18. On June 12, 2011 at 7:45am, jim said...

    Nice Shepherd’s Pie Recipe :)

    I was going to try the bellow recipe but I think I will try yours instead.

    http://www.wascene.com/food-drink/organic-beef-shepherds-pie-recipe/

    Regards,
    Jimmy

  19. On October 14, 2012 at 12:43am, rhonda said...

    I love Shepherd’s Pie, this recipe looks so delicious. I am making it this week and will feature it on my blog. I can’t wait!

  20. On October 17, 2012 at 7:47pm, Claudette said...

    This would be a great dish for the granddaughter’s to make for their papa… :)

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Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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