I’ll never forget the time I made Shepherd’s Pie and Wil sat across the table staring at his plate. When we asked him what was wrong, he replied – “Is there a REAL Shepherd in this?”
I’m not exactly sure where Shepherd’s Pie originated or who came up with the name. I’m also not sure why I just typed that sentence because surely, The Google would be appalled. I’ll be right back.
Apparently, it’s called “Shepherd’s Pie” because it traditionally contained Lamb or Mutton. Soooo. Shepherds watched their flock by day and ate a bit of the flock at night I suppose. Also, according to my google search, I shouldn’t even be calling in Shepherd’s Pie if its made with beef but “Cottage Pie.” I’ll keep my dramatic reaction to the horrific revelation to a minimum and continue on as if in the bliss of ignorance because when one bottle feeds a calf in the middle of an Arkansas Summer with a baby – I’m perfectly comfortable saying cattle are Shepherded. Therefore, we’re Shepherd’s pie-ing it in my house – minus one shepherd.
Let’s get started, shall we? Also – this meal would typically serve 6-8. However, I suggest doing one pie per 4-6 people and consider it pure joy my brethren when you are blessed with leftovers.
2 Pounds Lean Ground Beef
1 Small Onion
3 Cloves of fresh Garlic
(You can also use dried minced onion and/or garlic if you’re short on time, which I usually am.)
1 Package of frozen mixed carrots and peas
4-5 Large Potatoes
2-4 Tablespoons of Butter
1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
Now that you have all your ingredients out on the counter (or if you’re like me, you really just skipped that part to get to the good part – I feel you, boo!) Let’s get started with what you came for. Preheat your oven to 400 Degrees.
First, I use a large dutch oven to brown my ground beef. I put my onion and garlic in with my meat and let them cook at the same time, seasoning and flavoring my meat. I also put a bit of salt and pepper in there.
While my beef cooks, I boil water in another large pot and peel and slice my potatoes, dumping them in the hot water pot when I’m finished. I let them cook on high at a rolling boil until tender, usually about 15-20 mins.
When my meat is finished cooking (it may need to be drained), I dump in my vegetables and let them cook until tender, stirring often. Once the vegetables are done, the next step is to make a sauce that resembles a roux – only it’s way easier.
Pour into your meat and veggies 1/4 cup of all purpose flour and stir until evenly coated. Once coated, add 1-2 Tablespoons (I like the heavier amount) of Worcestershire Sauce and slowly add just enough beef stock to create a thick sauce. I usually leave just a little bit of liquid at the bottom of my dutch oven.
This is when I head back to my potatoes. I drain the potatoes and toss them into my mixer and put in about 4 Tablespoons of butter and mix on low. Once combined and the butter is melted, I pour in milk to texture and continue to mix until the mashed potatoes reach the perfect consistency, and then add salt and pepper to taste.
Take your mashed potatoes over to your dutch oven and layer them on top of the meat and vegetable mixture. I like my Shepherd’s Pie to have a bit of texture so I rough them up a bit on top and top with freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese. I place my dutch oven uncovered in the oven at 400 and set a timer for 10-15 minutes. All you want to do in the oven is melt the cheese on top and give the mashed potatoes a little bit of a toast. If it needs more time, simply watch it closely. What I love about this dish is that it’s meat and veggies all in one so it’s very filling and keeps the table free of a TON of dishes. I usually serve with warm bread.