Shepherd’s pie is classic comfort food, a crowd-pleaser for young and old alike.
It’s a simple braise of chopped vegetables, herbs and organic grass-fed ground beef, elevated with house-made beef broth, and topped with buttery mashed potatoes.
YIELD: 6-8 people
PREP TIME: 45 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 1 hour 15 minutes
2 pounds Ground Beef
3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 stick of salted butter
½ cup of milk or heavy cream
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 bay leaf
1 large carrot, diced
½ cup of frozen green peas
1 stick of celery, diced
3 or 4 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1½ cups house-made beef bone broth
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon cheddar and 1 tablespoon Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated, optional
Preheat the oven to 400 F
In a large pan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and bay leaf and cook on a low heat until the edges of the onions are caramelized, about 10 minutes.
Add the vegetables, garlic and Worcestershire sauce and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the ground beef. Cook until no longer pink.
Add the tomato paste and stir for a minute until well incorporated.
Add the bone broth and thyme and raise the heat to bring the pan to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is moist but no longer soupy, about 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
Meanwhile, bring the potatoes to a boil in plenty of salted water. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well and mash with butter and milk or cream. Season to taste.
Spoon the sauce into a shallow baking dish and top with mashed potato. Use a fork to crosshatch the top. Dot with butter or, if you like, a sprinkle of mild cheddar (melts well and gives you an attractive bronzed topping) and Parmigiano-Reggiano (flavor).
Cook until the sauce is bubbling at the sides of the dish and the top has browned, about 30 minutes. Rest for 10 minutes.
Add or substitute celeriac or parsnip in the sauce (or in the mash), add a handful of mushrooms, or chopped rosemary.
It’s hard to spread cold mashed potatoes on a warm sauce, so keep your mash warm.
You could freeze half the sauce before topping it with mash, or freeze the whole dish. Portions work better than large casseroles, because they’re easier to reheat without drying out. Use an aluminum pan for convenient freezing, or wrap your dish well in layers of cling film and foil. Mashed potatoes with a higher ratio of butter to milk freeze better than milky potatoes. Defrost overnight in your refrigerator, and cook at 350F for 30 minutes covered with foil, before removing the foil and then cooking for a further 15 minutes or until the edges are bubbling and the top is lightly browned. Rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Isabelle Jackson Nunes is the Executive Chef at a Wellness Retreat in Woodside, California. Isabelle has 10+ years of culinary experience in various kitchens across Northern California and brings an ecological consciousness to her cooking and menu design. She is a passionate locavore, honoring the tenets of local, earth-centered, and sustainable cuisine. An avid supporter of CSA’s, Slow Food, she works with local Farmers and Ranchers to produce nutritionally dense, whole foods uncompromising in flavor. Driving innovation with local, seasonal and balanced menus that nourish the body and planet, Isabelle’s progressive approach to culinary art is spiritual and meant to be shared. Forging the connection between cooking and nature is the inspiration behind her recipes, encouraging anybody to use food as medicine and engaging all of your senses.