Recipe: Shepherd’s Pie – My “Go To” Winter Dish….

When I was making this dish, I tweeted my progress to one of my former CIA classmates who immediately upon seeing I was using ground beef rather than lamb informed me that actually I was making “Cottage Pie”.  While I normally am true to a dish’s history, I am going to deviate this time around simply because  cottage pie sounds like a dish you make with cottage cheese and honestly that would be gross.

In any case, this recipe is a modification of the one by Mitchell Davis in his cookbook Kitchen Sense.  This book doesn’t have pretty pictures or exotic dishes but does have over 600 recipes and multiple variations on each.  I love Mitchell’s approach to cooking – straight forward, timeless and simple.  While some of his dishes, while simple, are not easy, they all use a common sense approach to cooking.  If you want a solid primer in how to cook or bake a variety of dishes, then I strongly suggest this cookbook.

This recipe is a mainstay in my winter rotation.  It is perfect to make after a dinner party as it allows you to use up leftovers quickly and in a tasty way.

Shepherd’s Pie

Makes Approximately 8 servings


2 1/2 lbs Yukon Gold, peeled and cute into chunks

Kosher Salt

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter

Freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 large carrots, peeled and diced

2 celery stalks, diced

2 lbs cooked lamb or beef, finely shredded or chopped (or 2 3/4 lbs of raw ground lamb or beef)

1 cup fresh button mushrooms, sliced

1 cup tomato sauce

1/2 cup frozen peas

1/2 cup frozen corn

1 tablespoon chopped thyme

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1/4 cup sour cream

1 large egg


1) Preheat oven to 400 degree F.

2) Place potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with water and liberally add salt to water, set over high heat and boil until they are soft approximately 25 minutes.

3) Drain well and mash with butter and sour cream.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

4)  In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add carrot and celery and cook until vegetables are soft and the onion begins to brown approximately another 5-7 minutes.

5)  If using cooked meat add now and heat through, approximately 3-5 minutes.  If using raw meat, cook until nicely browned making sure to drain off any extra fat.

6) Add mushrooms and cook until they have wilted and given off their liquid.  Pour in tomato sauce and add peas, corn, thyme rosemary and 2 teaspoons of salt and a generous amount of black pepper.    Cook until the liquid evaporates somewhat and the mixture comes together, approximately 5-7 minutes.

7) Stir in 1/2 cup of the mashed potatoes to give the meat mixture additional body.  Adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper.  Transfer this mixture to a deep 2-quart baking dish.

8 ) Beat egg into potato mixture and spread evenly over the top of the meat.  Smooth out the surface with a flexible spatula and sprinkle with paprika.  Bake for 35-40 minutes until the potatoes have browned on top and the meat mixture is bubbling.

9) Let cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.


– This dish is a great make ahead dish.  I tend to make double portions and place one of these, in the baking dishes, unbaked, in the freezer.  I  place a layer of parchment on top and wrap tightly with plastic wrap.  If cooking from frozen, add 20-30 minutes to overall cooking and place tin foil on top to avoid drying out.

Do you have any “go to” dishes when you need a comforting and easy meal?

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6 thoughts on “Recipe: Shepherd’s Pie – My “Go To” Winter Dish….

  1. That is one of my favorite dishes as well, but I’ve never attempted to make it. I may actually give this a try! My version of comfort food involves a vat of guac and a mountain of taquitos.

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