Pi(e) Week: Shepherd’s Pie

I know what you’re probably thinking, “Really, Jess? Yesterday you showed us two awesome pies and today you’re giving us meat and potatoes? Not just that, but a British version of meat and potatoes? Not to rain on your parade or anything, but that’s not exactly what I had in mind when you said, ‘Pie Week.'”

Well, well, well. I see how you doubt me. What if I told you this is the best meat and potatoes meal you’ll ever eat, and the fact that it has “pie” in its name is just a sweet coincidence. Oh, and it also has veggies in it! Seriously, this is amazing and so incredibly flavorful that my husband and I both licked the plate clean. 

I first tried this in Britain when some friends made it for me; I loved it then and made it a couple times when I came home. I don’t know why we don’t eat this more often, because it’s also really simple to make (don’t let the lengthy directions fool you; it’s easy, I promise). I hope I’m talking this up enough, because the picture you’re about to see doesn’t do it a single smidgen of justice. I snapped it as quickly as I could, because all I wanted to do was eat the darn thing! 

Pie week rocks, my friends. It rocks my socks off. 

Shepherd’s Pie (really, Cottage Pie since it’s made with ground beef and not lamb)
heavily adapted from Alton Brown

for the potatoes:
  • 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half (fat free is fine)
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter (I used Brummel and Brown. LOVE)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • season salt (to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (reserve) 

for the meat filling:

  • 1 tablespoons oil 
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4-1/2 cup diced green chile (optional but so, so, so fantastic in it)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste or ketchup
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels (buy the bag that has all three!)
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen carrots, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen English peas

Peel potatoes and dice into 1/2-inch pieces. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, decrease heat to maintain a simmer; cook until tender and easily crushed with tongs, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

Place half-and-half and butter in a microwave-safe container; heat in the microwave until warmed through, about 35 seconds. Drain potatoes and return to saucepan. Mash potatoes; add half and half, butter, salt(s) and pepper; continue mashing until smooth. Stir in the yolk until well combined.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

While potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Place oil in a 12-inch saute pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add onion and mushrooms; saute just until they begin to take on color, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic; stir to combine. Add beef, salt and pepper; cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Sprinkle meat with flour; toss to coat, cooking for another minute. Add tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, and green chile (optional); stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.

Add corn, carrots, and peas to the beef mixture and spread evenly into an 11 by 7-inch glass baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle cheese over mashed potatoes. Place dish on a baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven; bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown and cheese starts bubbling. Remove from oven and cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.


  1. I cringe every time I think of Shepherd's Pie…but your picture of it actually makes me want some! I may be giving Shepherd's Pie a second chance using your recipe! Thanks!

  2. Being British and all, my Nanny makes the most amazing Shepherd's Pie. Unfortunately, she does it from memory and doesn't have a recipe. I'm going to be trying this one soon!

  3. i had no idea true Shepherds Pie was made with lamb! I love love love it, I can't wait to make this. And that picture looks really, really good.

  4. Pete loves, loves, loves Shepard's Pie (Okay, Cottage Pie – I use ground beef not lamb). I'm a stickler for fresh veggies so we usually use peppers, onions and carrots chopped up and pan fried with the beef for a bit.

    Actually, funny story. My Bestie called me tonight asking to go to our local Irish pub because she was craving Shepard's pie! Then I came home to read this! Love it.

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