Shepherd’s pie, or “cottage pie” as it’s also known, is a meat pie with a mashed potato topping. It can be made numerous ways. Traditionally, Shepherd’s pie is made with ground lamb or mutton and Cottage pie is made with beef. The vegetables used also vary. Carrots and onions are the most common, but you will also see variations with celery, corn and peas.
Cottage pie was first referenced in 1791 when potatoes were a new crop being introduced to the working class in the United Kingdom. “Cottage” referred to a modest dwelling for local peasant workers. The name Shepard’s pie evolved much later, around the early 1850’s. Since that time, the two have been used interchangeably.
Shepherd’s pie is simple food that can be made out of leftovers; but despite its humble roots, it has become a bit of an iconic dish throughout the world. Some of the finest restaurants in the world serve a variation of this savory pie. Vegans even created a version made with lentils, which is absolutely delicious.
I love to make recipes like this with individual servings as seen in the photos, as it spruces up the presentation nicely and it is a great way to control portion sizes. If you don’t have little crocks, I suggest using ramekins, either round or oval. This is a great dish that can easily be made for large groups. If you want to minimize the number of dishes, you can use a casserole or baking pan per the recipes instructions. But if you serve this in individual pieces of crockery, another plus is that they will stay hot for a long time.
I am not typically a big fan fo casseroles, but this dish is a true favorite. This hearty dish is classic Winter comfort food to me and despite what you think, does not take all that long to whip up.
- For the Potatoes:
- 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup half-n-half
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg yolk
- For the Filling:
- 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, minced
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and small diced
- 3 garlic gloves, peeled and minced
- 1 pound ground organic beef
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 cup chicken stock
- Step 1 For the potatoes: Fill a medium-size stock pot half full with cold water. Add the potatoes. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat slightly and cook till tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well.
- Step 2 Run the potatoes through a ricer, or mash by hand. Add the butter and stir well to incorporate. Add the half-n-half, salt and egg yolk and mix well. Set aside.
- Step 3 For the Filling: While the potatoes are cooking, start the filling. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Step 4 Place a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and when hot, but not smoking, add the onions and carrots and cook until you begin to see some coloration, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds longer.
- Step 5 Add the ground beef, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until the meat is lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
- Step 6 Add the flour , Worcestershire sauce, thyme and chicken stock and stir well to combine. Bring the beef mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Step 7 For assembly: Using an 8×8-inch baking dish, spread the meat filling evenly on the bottom. Spoon the potatoes evenly over the meat filling, making sure to cover all areas and create a seal that will help the dish cook in the oven. Place a the prepared baking sheet and cook for about 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are just beginning to brown.
- Step 8 Remove the Shepherd’s pie from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.
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