Shepherd’s Pie: Seasonal Chef Recipe

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Shepherd’s Pie has been a tradition on Irish tables for over 200 years. First known as cottage pie, this savory meat and potato dish is a cherished favorite anytime of the year, but particularly in March for St. Patrick’s Day. Shepherd’s Pie can be made with beef, lamb or a combination of both. (This version uses only beef.) Click this link: to read more about Shepherd’s Pie from our Seasonal Chef.

Seasonal Chef Shepherd’s Pie

For the potatoes:
3 large Idaho potatoes, about 2 ½ lb, peeled and cut into 1” pieces
Kosher salt
2 cups milk, save ¼ cup for the filling
3 garlic cloves, smashed slightly
Kerrygold Dubliner cheese, optional

For the meat:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, ¼” dice, about 1 ½ to 2 cups
2 garlic cloves, minced
Ground black pepper
4 oz cremini mushrooms, ¼” dice, about 1 cup
1 ½ lb lean ground beef, 90/10
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup wine
1 cup good beef stock
¼ cup milk, (from the potatoes)
2 carrots, cut in ¼” rounds, about ¾ cup
1 – 15 oz can of petite dice tomatoes
1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
¼ cup Worchestershire sauce
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
¾ cup frozen peas, thawed
1cup fresh parsley minced, divided
Chop (prep) all of your vegetables first: potatoes, onion, garlic, mushroom and carrots.

Place the potatoes in a small stockpot and fill with cold water covering about 2 inches and add 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until they are very soft, about 20 minutes. Set a colander in the sink.

In a small pot put the milk and garlic over medium low heat. Bring to just about a simmer and then turn off the heat and steep the milk. Remove the garlic just before using the milk.

In a large non-stick pan, over medium heat, melt the butter and add the onion, garlic and ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and cook another 5 minutes.

Add the beef and season with a good pinch of salt and pepper, breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon. Cook until all of the pink disappears, about 5 minutes. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon of fat.

Check the potatoes at this point, they should be done. Turn off the heat, drain them in the colander and place back in the pot.

Stir the flour into your meat mixture. Turn up the heat slightly, to medium high, and add the wine, beef stock, ¼ cup of the garlic-steeped milk and carrots. Combine well. Let that reduce for about 5 minutes. It’s important to burn off the alcohol, otherwise your meat will have an aluminum aftertaste.

While the liquid is reducing turn back to your pot of potatoes and add 1 cup of the garlic-steeped milk, ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper and whip with a hand held mixer for 2 minutes. Add another ½ cup of milk and mix for 2 more minutes. Use the remaining ¼ cup of milk if necessary. The potatoes should be smooth, light and fluffy, but not watery. Taste for seasoning and set aside.

To your bubbling meat add the tomatoes, tomato paste, Worchestershire and thyme. Allow it to continue cooking until it’s thick, about 10-15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°.

Turn off the heat and add the peas and ½ cup finely chopped parsley. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. Your filling should be glossy and thick. Place in a 10” pie plate. Carefully scoop the potatoes over top making peaks with the back of a spoon. Using a fine microplane or grater top the potatoes with grated cheese, if desired.

Bake for 30 minutes and broil the last 5 to get a golden brown crust. Remove from oven and sprinkle with the reserved parsley. Let it rest for 5 minutes before digging in.

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About Author

Seasonal Chef blogger Maria Reina comes to the world of food as a third career, spending a great portion of her adult life in the field of Human Resources. With her private company Bella Cucina Maria she is a personal chef, caterer and recreational cooking class teacher in Westchester. She's an avid food television watcher and cookbook collector, always looking for a new take on a traditional dish. In her free time she loves hanging out at local farmer's markets, chatting it up with the farmers and doing cooking demos with their seasonal ingredients. In addition to her blog, which is loaded with easy recipes, you can follow her on Facebook (Bella Cucina Maria), Twitter (Bellacucinam), Instagram (Bellacucinam) and Pinterest (Bellacucinam).

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