Perfect Shepherd’s Pie ranks right at the top for classic comfort food And for good reason: what’s not to love about a saucy scoop of steaming veggies and beef smothered in fluffy mashed potatoes heaped on your plate?!
There are so many variations on this classic one-dish dinner and, technically, a true Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb, not beef (the correct name for this casserole when made with beef is Cottage Pie, but I would have never known that without researching some history on this famous one-dish meal). If you can find some lamb at your local grocer you could certainly replace the beef in this recipe with that. I’ve also made this recipe with a 50/50 blend of venison and beef and that is equally delicious. Would that then be called Hunter’s Pie?
Fun fact: here in the Midwest, many people will refer to a casserole as a “hotdish”. That was a new term to me when I moved to the Midwest from Canada. If you’re a word nerd like me you can read a bit more about the casserole/hotdish debate here).
What makes this Perfect Shepherd’s Pie perfect is the tantalizing blend of spices (trust me, cumin and Worcestershire sauce make a stunning, if unusual, duo) combined with the creamiest, cheesiest mashed potatoes. No dry Shepherd’s Pie here!
While I love cooking, I don’t love spending a ton of time making a meal that gets eaten in a fraction of the time that it took to make it. So most of the meals I make need to take 30 minutes or less of hands-on time. However, for this meal, I bend the rule. Shepherd’s Pie takes me a little longer to put together than most things I make because I’m slow like that, but it is totally worth every minute of the hands-on prep time. Also, this is a great make-ahead-meal. You can assemble it the night before, then pop it in the oven the next evening and have dinner on the table in a hurry when you need it.
Now, without further ado, let’s get cooking!
Perfect Shepherd’s Pie
A delicious casserole brimming with saucy veggies and beef and topped with cheesy mashed potatoes.
- 6-8 Russet potatoes peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes to make 6 cups
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ cup sour cream
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup milk
- ¼ cup butter
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
- Black pepper freshly ground
Meat and Veggies:
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 2 large carrots peeled and chopped to make 1 cup
- 3-4 celery stalks sliced thinly to make 2 cups
- 1 bunch green onions trimmed and thinly chopped to make 1/2 cup
- 2 TBLS Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- 2 tsp dried Italian herb seasoning no salt, just herbs
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 TBLS all purpose flour
- 2 cups low sodium beef broth or water/bouillon mixed according to package instructions.
In a large pot, cover the diced potatoes with water and add the salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, watching carefully so that they don’t over boil. Once the potatoes come to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are fork tender, about 15 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the potato liquid, then carefully drain the potatoes in a colander. Return the potatoes to the pot, and add the cream, milk and butter. Using a potato masher,mash the potatoes until smooth. Stir in the cheese until well blended. Add fresh ground black pepper to taste.
While the potatoes are boiling, brown the beef over medium high heat in a 12” frying pan until the meat is no longer pink. Add the celery,carrots, spices and 1 cup of reserved potato water, then sauté together until the carrots are barely fork tender, about 10 minutes.
Next, sprinkle the flour over the meat mixture and stir to combine. Add the beef broth and simmer for 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly.
Meanwhile, begin your oven heating to 375°. Grease a 13x9 baking dish. When the beef and veggie mixture is ready, carefully pour it into the pan. Spread the prepared potatoes evenly over the meat mixture using a spatula.
Pop the pan into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or untilthe potatoes begin to turn golden and the meat mixture is bubbly.
Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Note: Russet potatoes work best in this recipe because they make such light and fluffy mashed potatoes. However, if you would like, you can substitute with whatever variety of potatoes you have on hand. The potatoes may not turn out as fluffy but they will still taste delicious.
There you have it! A simple and delicious recipe for Perfect Shepherd’s Pie. Make it today and it just might become your next family favorite. Feel free to leave a five-star rating if you love this recipe!
P.S. Are you looking for some more easy family dinners? I think you’ll also love ~
…and don’t forget dessert!