Shepherd’s Pie is the perfect comfort food for the weather we had this week. Our first significant snow of the winter fell just before St. Patrick’s Day, arriving like a late and unwanted guest who shows up at the party just as you have started clearing up.
The hearty combination of meat, vegetables and creamy mashed potatoes will warm you up from the inside out on a damp, blustery day. The original version, as the name suggests, was made with lamb. In the United States it’s usually made with ground beef, a version my mother calls “cottage pie.” A favorite of Irish pub menus and families, it pleases even the pickiest eater. I recently made double this recipe for the family of a friend whose husband is undergoing treatment for cancer because it’s one of his favorite dishes. She told me her husband and teenage son ate the entire pie in one night.
- 1 lb. ground beef or lamb
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 carrots diced
- 1 cup frozen peas (optional)
- 1 tsp. tomato paste
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 bay leaf
- salt and pepper
- 3 russet potatoes
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1/2 cup whole milk or cream
- Heat oil in large saucepan. Add ground meat and cook until browned.
- Remove browned meat to a plate. Pour off excess oil from saucepan.
- Add diced onion and carrot. Cook until onion is translucent and carrots are soft.
- Return meat to the pan. Add tomato paste, bay leaf, broth and peas if using. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cook about 20 minutes until meat mixture absorbs the broth. Pour the cooked meat into an oven safe dish.
- In the meantime, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Peel and cut potatoes into quarters.
- Place potatoes in medium saucepan. Cover with cold, salted water.
- Bring water to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.
- Cook until potatoes are soft. Drain off water.
- Cover potatoes with a clean, cotton dishcloth. Cover saucepan and put back on a very low heat for five minutes to dry out the potatoes before mashing.
- Heat milk or cream and butter.
- Add to potatoes and mash.
- Top the meat mixture with the mashed potatoes. Use the tines of a fork to make a design in the potato topping.
- Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the mashed potato is golden brown and the meat mixture is bubbling.