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Not So Traditional Ground Beef Shepherd’s Pie

Last modified on July 20th, 2018 at 1:35 pm

Beef Shepherd’s Pie is a comfort food classic that is cooked with rich, meaty flavours topped with broth based mashed potatoes. It’s the perfect dish for a cozy night in.  

A dish that comes to us from England, the classic shepherd’s pie is made traditionally with minced lamb or mutton mixed with green peas and carrots, and topped with creamy mashed potatoes before being baked in the oven. Over on this side of the world, cottage pie is made with the same corn, green peas and carrots, topped with creamy mashed potatoes except on a base of ground beef.

Close up of Beef Shepherds pie in cast iron skillet next to plate with shepherds pie serving and small bowl of chopped parsley

But no matter what meat (or even non-meat) you’re using, a Shepherd’s Pie is basically a meat and potatoes casserole and we can all agree that it’s one of the ultimate comfort foods, especially in the winter. Made with a flavourful mix of onions, carrots, and celery. ground beef, tomato paste and garlic, the richness of the meat is added using bone broth. The key to a really delicious and flavourful Beef Shepherd’s Pie is all in the meat and vegetables, potatoes and the assembly.

Flat lay image of ingredients for beef shepherds pie and image of cooked shepherds pie in a cast iron skillet
Small bowls of diced carrots, corn kernels, green peas, worcestershire, beef stock and cloves of garlic

Fun fact c/o of Jamie Oliver: The name “cottage” was applied to this kind of meat pie around the time potatoes were being introduced in the UK, because they were an affordable for thing for peasants, many of whom would live in cottages, to eat.

The Meat and Vegetables

Browning your meat is the first step to ensuring your Beef Shepherd’s Pie is flavourful and rich. If time allows, cook your meat off in batches allowing all sides to brown and get a charred crust. Crowding your meat in the skillet makes your meat steam without building browning flavour on the meat and in the pan.

Next, add in mushrooms and onions and cook until the onions are translucent. While traditional Beef Shepherd’s Pie doesn’t have mushrooms to us, this casserole is the perfect way to add in additional vegetables. Add in remaining vegetables of carrots, corn and green peas, season with salt and pepper and cook with beef broth, Worcestershire and tomato paste, cooking until thick.

Cast iron skillet with browned beef and mushrooms, and cast iron skillet with cooked beef topped with diced carrots, corn, and peas
Philip stirring beef shepherds pie mixture in cast iron skillet
The Mashed Potatoes

Your Beef Shepherd’s Pie is only as good as the mashed potatoes you top it with. Creamy, fluffy and full of intense flavour, our russet mashed potatoes are made flavourful by boiling the potatoes in beef broth. Yes, you read right. Instead of boiling them in water and draining them, we boil ours in broth allowing the potatoes to take on the flavour and mash them right into the broth.

Tip: Boil your potatoes in beef broth and once soft, mash them with one egg for the ultimate creamy and rich potatoes.

After you’ve mashed them, our other trick of cracking an egg into our potatoes makes them crisp up in the oven leaving the insides creamy and rich. Season your potatoes with salt and pepper and get ready to assemble.

Phil pouring stock into the pot with potatoes, and Phil cracking an egg into mashed potatoes
The Assembly

Before you begin, pack your meat and vegetables down into your cast iron skillet before you spread your mashed potatoes atop. Be sure to cover all the meat and vegetable mixture with the potatoes allowing no space between the two.

Then grab your fork and in the centre of your potatoes using the tip, glide your fork in a circular motion inward out until you reach the edges. The imprint of the form in the potatoes allows the higher edges to crisp and firm up in the oven providing an interesting design your potatoes and a crispy and soft pillowy effect to the taste.

Phil scooping potatoes onto the beef shepherds pie mixture.

Close up photo of finished shepherds pie with browned potato crust

What you’re left with is a flavourful meat base with vegetables and a creamy, rich, broth mashed potato perfect for any cozy night in. Remember, when cooking your Beef Shepherd’s Pie to keep your meat, vegetables and potatoes are equal measures so that each bite is the perfect combination of all three ratios. What meat do you prefer to use in your shepherd’s pie?

Bon appetit,

Chef Sous Chef

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Not So Traditional Shepherd’s Pie

Beef Shepherd's Pie in a cast iron skillet next to a plate with a piece of shepherd's pie and small bowl of parsley

Beef Shepherd’s Pie is a comfort food classic that is cooked with rich, meaty flavours topped with broth based mashed potatoes. It’s the perfect dish for a cozy night in.  

 

  • Author: Chef Sous Chef
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 80 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 people
  • Category: Food + Drink, Main

Ingredients

Filling

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 lbs ground meat
  • 1 large onion (peeled and diced)
  • 1 large carrot (peeled and diced)
  • 2 cups mushrooms (roughly chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled and finely diced (peeled and minced)
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas

Potato Topping

  • 2 lbs russet potatoes (peeled and cut into large chunks)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup bone broth
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Instructions

No. 1 | Preheat oven to 375˚F

No. 2 | Clean, peel, and chop potatoes, place in large pot with 1/2 cup of beef stock, and 1/2 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Cook until fork tender, approximately 20 minutes. Work on step 3 while potatoes are cooking.

No. 3 | Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a cast iron skillet set on medium high heat.  Once the oil begins to smoke, place 1 inch pieces of ground meat in the pan leaving space between. Sear for two minutes then stir the meat and continue to cook until browned. Cook in batches if necessary to ensure not to crowd the pan. Keep cooked meat aside in a bowl.

No. 4 | Using the same pan, add an additional 1 tbsp of oil (if necessary). Sauté the onions for 30 seconds, then add mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper.  Once mushrooms release liquid, add minced garlic, and continue to cook until mushrooms are tender. Mix the browned beef into the mushrooms, then add the carrots, peas, and corn. Pour in broth, tomato paste, worcestershire and cook until thickened, about 5-7 minutes. Taste, and adjust seasoning to taste.

No. 5 | In the pot with the potatoes, add 2 tbsp of olive oil and black pepper. Mash until smooth and taste for seasoning. Adjust as necessary. Crack and egg open and immediately mash it into the mixture as quick as possible so the egg does not scramble.

No. 6 | Smear potatoes on top of the meat mixture and smooth or distribute evenly to achieve your desired look

No. 7 | Cook in preheated oven for 50 mins or until potatoes are golden brown

A plate with a serving of beef shepherds pie and a fork

 

 

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9 Comments

  • Reply
    Tracey
    November 24, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    Both the husband and I loved it—and went back for seconds! He even commented on how fluffy the potatoes were. And although the recipe said to leave the pie in the oven for 50 minutes, since mine gets pretty hot, 40 minutes would have been perfect (less browning on top).

  • Reply
    Lindsay
    January 14, 2018 at 1:20 am

    Is the 1/2 cup broth enough liquid to boil the potatoes?

    • Reply
      Chef Sous Chef
      January 14, 2018 at 9:23 am

      Hi Lindsay,

      The potatoes get cooked by a combination of the broth and the steam from the broth. This amount ensures that you can mash the potatoes in the broth and still get a good consistency. If you have concerns, you can add extra broth, but just make sure to drain some of the excess before mashing so the potatoes don’t turn out soupy.

  • Reply
    Lindsay
    January 14, 2018 at 7:32 pm

    Just finished up dinner. Absolutely delicious! Make sure to get a good seal when you cover the potatoes as they are steaming. I added a little parmigiano reggiano on top of the mash before browning.

    • Reply
      Chef Sous Chef
      January 14, 2018 at 7:41 pm

      We’re so glad you loved it! Great idea to add the parm.

  • Reply
    Iain Morrison
    July 14, 2018 at 10:10 pm

    It is not traditional in the UK to have corn in a Shepherd’s Pie, or a Cottage Pie. Peas and carrots? Yes! BTW, your recipe is for Cottage Pie, because “Shepherd’s Pie” is always made from Lamb, because shepherds look after sheep…not cows.

    • Reply
      Chef Sous Chef
      July 20, 2018 at 1:36 pm

      Hi Iain, Thanks for the comment and info. Mystique is obsessed with corn and puts it in everything. In our house we always called it Shepherd’s Pie whether it was ground beef or lamb, and that’s why we called it the Not So Traditional Ground Beef Shepherd’s Pie. Thanks again for reading and taking the time to comment!

  • Reply
    Steve
    November 5, 2018 at 7:35 pm

    yep, this is an awesome recipe, loved it.

    • Reply
      Chef Sous Chef
      November 5, 2018 at 10:53 pm

      Thanks Steve! We’re so glad you enjoyed the recipe.

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