Shepherd’s Pie is one of X and I’s favourite meal. We love the combination of soft, creamy and rich mashed potatoes with the juicy and flavourful beef filling. I usually double or triple the recipe and freeze excess portions – they make really awesome freezer meals. If you love the idea of freezer meals – head over here for more inspirations and ideas.
Did You Know: Cottage Pie vs Shepherd’s Pie
Originating from United Kingdom and Ireland, a pie made with any kind of meat and mashed potato was traditionally called a cottage pie. Only when it’s made with lamb it would be called shepherd’s pie, because a shepherd looks after sheep. Nowadays, I think many of us just call it a shepherd’s pie regardless of what meat was used.
Minced meat is usually used for my shepherd’s pie and my choice of meat is usually beef. Sometimes I would use pork or chicken if I’m making it for friends who don’t eat beef. The meat is sautéed with onions, garlic, mushrooms and carrots. If I happen to have a can of corn kernels on hand I’ll also add some them in.
The filling is seasoned with dried herbs (I just use a pasta herb blend, but you can mix and match your own with parsley, thyme, oregano etc.), Worcestershire sauce (use light soy sauce if you don’t have it) and tomato paste. I like how the tomato paste add a subtle tomato-y flavour and thicken the whole meat filling slightly, but you can omit it or swap it with ketchup. I don’t use a whole can of tomato paste for shepherd pies, but leftover tomato paste can be frozen in tablespoonfuls. This is very useful for other future recipes
Over the years of making and eating shepherd’s pie, I’ve realised we love a creamy mashed topping, so I always add in butter, cream and cheeses into the mashed potatoes these days. I use a very simple formula of 10% add-ons – meaning for every 1 kg of potatoes used, I will add in 100g butter, 100g cream, and 100g cheeses. I typically use a mix of mozzarella, cheddar and parmesan, but you can use whatever cheeses you like. The resulting mashed potatoes are always so creamy and delicious. Do score the top of the mashed potatoes (I used a fork) so that the sharp edges will brown in the oven. I’ve never tried piping the mashed potatoes as I find it a chore (more things to wash)!
If you are able to boil the potatoes and cook the meat filling at the same time, then you should be able to serve the shepherd’s pie in 1 hour. Make extra and you can freeze the assembled pie for next time! I’ve included instructions on how to assemble and freeze the pie in the recipe below.
I am quite proud to say that the shepherd’s pie is a hit whenever I serve it during gatherings. Try it and let me know what you think!
|1) Boil the potatoes with a bit of salt until they are fork-tender.||2) Drain the potatoes. Leave the potatoes in the sieve for 5 minutes to steam-dry the potatoes.|
|3) Mash the potatoes then stir in cream (or milk), and cheeses. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.||4) Sauté onion and carrot over medium-high heat until the onion is soft and translucent.|
|5) Add in the ground beef or pork. Break them into small pieces and stir-fry until they are no longer pink in colour.||6) Stir in mushrooms and garlic.|
|7) Add in Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, dried herbs, a pinch of salt and as much freshly ground black pepper as you like. Cook, until the mushrooms have softened and shrunk in size.||8) Remove from heat and transfer the mixture into the greased baking dish.|
|9) Scoop the Mashed Potatoes on top of the Meat Filling and carefully spread to cover it.||10) Use a fork to score the top of the Mashed Potatoes as this will help the top browned and it's ready to be baked!|
- 1 1-litre oven-safe container – see Notes 1-3
- 300-400 grams potatoes, peeled and cut into 3-cm chunks
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 30-40 grams butter, unsalted
- 30-40 grams cream, alternatively – use a mix of 2/3 milk + additional 1/3 butter
- 30-40 grams cheese, I like to use a mix of mozzarella, cheddar and parmesan
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1/2 onion, peeled and finely diced
- 1/2 carrot, peeled and shredded or finely diced
- 200 grams ground beef, not 100% lean, as the fats will keep the filling moist
- 100 grams fresh button mushrooms
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon dried herbs, use a blend or a mix of oregano, basil, thyme
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 200°C (either conventional or convectional).
- Place potatoes in a small pot. Add enough water to completely submerge the potatoes. Add in salt.
- Place pot on high heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the potatoes are fork-tender (a fork should be able to pierce through a piece of potato and break easily).
- Drain the potatoes into a colander / sieve. Allow the potatoes to steam-dry to evaporate excess water for 5 minutes.
- Transfer the potatoes into a mixing bowl. Mash the potatoes and stir in cream (or milk) and cheeses. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Meat Filling (make it while potatoes are simmering)
- Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add oil, onion and carrot. Sauté until the onion is soft and translucent.
- Add in the ground beef or pork. Break them into small pieces and stir-fry until they are no longer pink in colour.
- Stir in mushrooms and garlic and stir-fry until mushrooms have softened and shrunk in size.
- Stir in Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, and dried herbs. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. (Note: The filling should be moist – not wet or dry with no liquid.)
- Spread Meat Filling into baking dish. Scoop Mashed Potatoes over Meat Filling, spreading it out evenly.
- Use a fork to "score" the top of the Mashed Potatoes. (Note: This helps the top to brown.)
- Bake for 20 minutes until filling is bubbling and top is browned. (Note: If the top is not browned enough to your liking, shift the pie to just below the heating element and broil until golden brown. But watch the pie closely so that it doesn't burn!)
- Let pie stand for 5 minutes beofre serving.
Others: Make Ahead
- Make Mashed Potatoes and Meat Filling and allow them to cool completely before assembling the pie.
- If pie is chilled in fridge: Bake the pie straight from the fridge, adding 5 to 10 minutes additional baking time as required to ensure Meat Filling is bubbling hot. If the top is browning too fast, cover the top with a piece of aluminum foil.
- If pie is frozen in the freezer: Thaw the pie overnight in the refrigerator the day before you want to eat it. Bake the pie as above.
- Original 2-pax recipe: Use a 1-litre oven-safe container: i) IKEA’s 365+ 1L glass food container (W15 x L21 x H6 cm); ii) Round 7-inch x H1.5-inch baking dish
- 3 to 4-pax recipe (1.5 times): W8 x L8-inch baking dish
- 6 to 8-pax recipe (3 times): W9 x L13-inch baking dish
- If the beef is extremely fatty and has rendered a lot of fat, drain off the excess fats by using a spoon to scoop them out. Leave enough fats in the Meat Filling to ensure it stays moist.
- Minced chicken, pork or lamb can be used in place of beef.
Update 4/1/2023: Updated the recipe after baking and eating many shepherd’s pies – the mashed potatoes is softer, creamier and richer. Also included the baking dish sizes that you can use when scaling the recipe.