Shepherds Pie - The Chef's Cooking School

Shepherds Pie

An Irish rooted comfort food, Shepherd’s pie which is ground meat en-robed in gravy, covered with vegetables and topped with whipped or mashed potatoes then baked in a casserole dish.  This Irish rooted shepherd’s pie is an alternative to Corned Beef and Cabbage and New England boiled dinner on St. Patrick’s Day.

Making Shepherds Pie With Leftovers

Shepherds pie is a great dish for a number of reasons.  While the dish itself is very warming with gravy, mashed potatoes, meat and vegetables.  The dish itself is like the original KFC – famous bowl, which had potato, popcorn chicken gravy and corn. It is hard not to like or enjoy.

The making of shepherd’s pie make it perfect to be done with leftovers.  The way it is constructed you can utilize menu items from other meals.  You may have extra or cooked extra intentionally to utilize.  Either way you can make shepherds pie with leftovers.

Some examples of this would be if you had a cookout and you had cooked extra burgers or chicken.  The extra portions of beef or chicken could be ground up or chopped probably not mixed together.  You would use one or the other, then add your gravy, vegetables and top with mashed potatoes.

Not to be left out would be the original ingredient in shepherds pie, lamb.  Lamb is a distinctive flavor that not everyone enjoys.  However if you had roasted a lamb and had extra or leftover product you could cube it in small chunks and do the same process as before with gravy, vegetables and then potato.

Other items that you could utilize, or really prepare in advance, almost, are mashed potatoes and gravy.  I would say vegetables, and while this is true, I usually use frozen vegetables for this so it an easy step anyways.  However, you could use leftover vegetables as well.

Shepherds Pie On St. Patrick's Day?

While I enjoy corned beef and cabbage, I don’t eat it all that often.  Once or twice a year around St. Patrick’s Day I enjoy it.  Not everyone is a big fan of corned beef and cabbage and yet they enjoy celebrating the Irish heritage.  This is where shepherd’s pie on St. Patrick’s Day comes in.

Shepherds pie, as we have described earlier, is a comfort food.  There are a number of restaurants that offer shepherds pie on their menus all year around.  However, around St. Patrick’s Day, a huge number of restaurants add this dish to their menus.  Shepherd’s Pie on St. Patrick’s Day is not only a great menu item for many but also offers an alternative option to corned beef and cabbage while still celebrating the Irish heritage

I enjoy both of these dishes, if I were to go out twice, I would likely get one of each.  I equally enjoy corned beef hash. While corned beef can be made specifically cooked for corned beef hash, the hash is often a bi-product of corned beef and cabbage.  Corned beef can be turned into corned beef hash rather easily.

A Simple Shepherds Pie Recipe Using Ground Beef

The original shepherds pie was made with lamb.  The term shepherd would conjugate that this was a dish they would utilize some of there livestock.  As a shepherd they likely would have experienced a sheep getting killed by a predator.  They would have likely killed the predator or scared them off.  They would have not wanted the sheep to go to waste.  A simple shepherds pie recipe using ground beef wouldn’t have been so simple for them

This would have been one of the dishes that they came up with.  They turned a bad situation into a classic dish that has survived time.  To our benefit we don’t need to tend sheep as was a common livelihood for them in Ireland.  I can tell you that in my more than 30 years as a chef, I have never eaten shepherds pie made with lamb. 

We can make a simple shepherds pie recipe using ground beef.  A simple summary of the recipe that follows is cooking the ground beef, draining off the fat, incorporate a small amount of flour and beef bouillon or base if you aren’t using beef stock, cook slowly in a pan to cook the flour.

Add stock if you aren’t using base, add water if using base.  Stir bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Season with rosemary, salt and pepper to taste.  Place in the bottom of a casserole dish that has been sprayed with pan release.  If there is too much gravy remove some and reserve for service. 

The meat should be covered in gravy but not overboard, top with frozen mixed vegetables or corn.  This is traditional, however fresh carrots, Brussel sprouts would also be nice.  If using fresh vegetables, the vegetables should be cooked at least ¾ prior to using them.  Place a layer of vegetables over the top, cover with mashed potatoes, bake at 375 until golden and bubbly.

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Shepherds Pie

Traditionally Shepherds Pie would be made with ground lamb, most often in the states, you see it made with ground beef.  Here we will use Beef, however, substitute ground lamb for beef and keep the recipe the same otherwise to create a traditional shepherds pie.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time50 mins
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Servings: 6
Calories: 1211kcal

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs Ground Beef
  • 3 lbs Mashed Potatoes Use 6 medium size potatoes, peel, cube, boil until tender, add 6 Tbl. butter, and 1/2 cup milk or cream. Season, with salt and pepper
  • 1 lb. Frozen Corn
  • 2 cups Beef Broth
  • 2 oz. Roux 2 T. Buttter, 2T. Flour. Combine notes, cook slowly stirring until Nutty aroma
  • 2 Tbsp. Tomato Paste Optional
  • 1/2 tsp. Rosemary Chopped
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 each Onion medium, diced

Instructions

  • Cook Ground Beef off in skillet, season with Salt and Pepper
  • Drain off fat, remove meat from the pan, saute onion, mix with the beef
  • In a saucepan add stock, tomato, Worcestershire sauce, whisk in prepared cooked roux as listed
  • Simmer the sauce or gravy, adjust the thickness of the sauce, add more stock or water if too thick.  The sauce should coat the back of a spoon when immersed and extracted from the sauce.
  • Spray a 2-quart casserole dish with pan spray, on the bottom of the pan, spread the beef-onion mixture evenly, cover the meat with sauce, 
  • Place a layer of frozen corn over the top of the beef/gravy evenly you (could use frozen mixed vegetables as well)
  • Take your mashed potatoes and spread them evenly over the layer of corn, this will be a thicker layer.  Drizzle melted butter, or brush melted butter or olive oil over the top of the potatoes.  
  • Bake at 375 until the entire casserole is bubbly hot, or potatoes get slightly browned.  Serve. 

Notes

This is a nice dish for individual casserole dishes if you have them.
Nutrition Facts
Shepherds Pie
Amount Per Serving
Calories 1211 Calories from Fat 216
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 24g 37%
Saturated Fat 9g 45%
Cholesterol 80mg 27%
Sodium 662mg 28%
Potassium 3129mg 89%
Total Carbohydrates 210g 70%
Dietary Fiber 17g 68%
Sugars 8g
Protein 42g 84%
Vitamin A 2.3%
Vitamin C 230.9%
Calcium 9.6%
Iron 35.3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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