Savory Shepherd’s Pie

by Rebekahcooked up on December 6, 2011

So, it’s finally really cold here. Usually in the mornings we roll out of bed, get into workout clothes and head down to the gym before work. We did that today, and like usual we were both wearing our gym shorts with a light jacket. Big. Mistake. It was 30 degrees. Apparently it is December!

Rather than actually warming up to be ready to work out, I spent the first 10 minutes of my workout returning to a normal temperature. Long pants tomorrow for sure.

That kind of freezing feeling is exactly what makes this kind of dinner so delicious.

Savory beef  (or lamb), earthy winter vegetables, and a buttery-smooth potato topping with a thin crust on top.

Here’s what we used to make a shepherd’s pie, but you can use pretty much whatever you want, as long as your pot will hold it:

  • About 1.5 pounds ground beef
  • One yellow onion
  • Several cloves of garlic
  • A few tablespoons of canola oil
  • 1-2 cups of peas
  • 1-2 cups of corn
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
  • 3 medium russet potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • A few tablespoons of milk
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • Any other seasonings you might like – we used generous amounts of salt and pepper, plus Penzeys English Prime Rib Rub. A bay leaf might have been nice, now that I think about it. Oops.

That is way more items than we usually work with, huh?

So, there are two components, basically: the insides and the topping. You can get the potato topping started while you work on the insides, and then switch while the insides simmer. Dice and boil your potatoes until they are easily smooshable. This could take 15-20 minutes.

In the meantime, brown the ground beef in a large, oven-safe pot like a dutch oven or a cast iron pot. Add the onions, parsnip and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent. You can add a splash of canola in here if you feel it needs more liquid.

Then, sprinkle about 2 tbsp. of flour over the whole thing while it’s still on the heat and stir to coat. This will thicken the delicious insides. After about another minute, add the wine and Worcestershire sauce and bring to a simmer for 10-14 minutes. Time to go back to the topping.

Drain the potatoes and then mash with a potato masher or a fork . Add the butter and milk and whip together (using a fork is fine) until pretty smooth, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. Of all dishes, this is one that’s definitely good to have be a little rustic.

When the potatoes are successfully mashed, add the peas and carrots to the meat mixture and season heavily. Add the mashed potatoes to the top of the dish in dollops, and then spread carefully to cover any open spots.

Put the delicious dish into a 400 degree oven fairly (but not too much) close to the top of the oven. Cook for about 30 minutes.


  1. With snow on the ground outside this sounds like the perfect warm winter meal. Yum!

    Comment by MaryK — December 6, 2011 at 7:47 am

  2. I was JUST looking for a good shepherd’s pie recipe, since I lost the one I had! Seriously! 🙂 I think I know what I’m making for Christmas Eve dinner!

    Comment by Jacque E — December 19, 2011 at 9:01 am

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