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If I must choose one beloved dish that reminds me most of my childhood and family it would be Shepherd’s Pie

I would request it for my birthday dinners, when a celebration was in order, or when I just craved Mom’s home cooking. 

Simon & Garfunkel Herbs

The fresh herbs in this classic comfort food recipe make it sing…Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme; Remember me to one who lives there, she once was a true love of mine. 

Mom called her version *Chinese Pie which was slightly different than this Shepherd’s Pie recipe (creamed corn in place of carrot, onion, zucchini, peas), but had all the comfort that only a casserole (or maybe a fresh from the oven chocolate chip cookie) can bring.

Another similar dish to the Irish Shepherd’s Pie is Cottage Pie, one made with lamb and one with beef, although the variations are many.

The Method

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  • In a large skillet sauté mushrooms until golden brown on both sides and reserve
  • Meanwhile boil potatoes until tender, drain, and mash with butter, buttermilk, sage, salt & pepper
  • If using fresh English peas simmer those as well
  • Brown the meat and drain fat
  • Add garlic, tomato paste, fresh herbs and Worcestershire, stir to combine
  • Add wine and allow to mostly cook off before dusting with flour (or arrowroot for gluten free)
  • Stir in broth and simmer until sauce begins to thicken
  • Return sautéed mushrooms to pan to combine
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste
  • Pour browned meat and mushrooms into 2 quart buttered casserole dish. Reserve.
  • Top meat/mushroom layer with sautéed vegetables. Reserve.
  • Spread mashed potatoes over veggie layer
  • Make a criss-cross pattern with a fork
  • Dot with butter pieces 
  • Bake until edges start to become golden brown 40 – 45 minutes  
  • Finish under broiler for nice brown peaks
  • Let stand for at least 5 minutes before serving

This Shepherd’s Pie is rich and hearty and just as comfortable as I remember. Hope you love it like we do!

*I just had to know where the name Chinese Pie came from so I did a little culinary digging. Apparently Chinese Pie, also known as Paté Chinois, originated in Canada and is a staple French-Canadian dish. During the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway in the late 19th century workers were fed rations of beef, potatoes and corn. Many of the workers of primarily Asian origin would combine their rations, creating a family-style dish to be shared. This serving style took off with the French-Canadian workers as well who dubbed the dish Paté Chinois (or Chinese Pie in French). And now you know ~ the rest of the story.

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All my best,
xo Libby

Shepherd’s Pie

Libby with Lemony Thyme
This Shepherd's Pie is rich and hearty and just as comfortable as I remember. The fresh herbs in this classic comfort food recipe make it sing.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Course Main Course
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

For the Meat & Mushroom Layer

  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 1 Tablespoon butter & olive oil
  • 2 lbs. ground beef and/or ground lamb
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, parsley, sage) minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 Tablespoon flour or arrow root (for GF Version)
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

For the Vegetable Layer

  • 1 Tbl. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion diced, about 1 cup
  • 2-3 carrots diced, about 1 cup
  • 2 small zucchini julienned, about 1 cup
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen English peas

For the Potato Layer

  • 3 lbs. potatoes or cauliflower for a low-carb alternative
  • 5 Tbl. butter divided
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh sage minced optional
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions
 

For the Meat & Mushroom Layer

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a large skillet, add 1 tablespoon butter & 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add mushrooms in single layer and cook until golden brown on both sides. Remove from skillet and reserve.
  • Brown meat over medium high heat, drain fat, then add tomato paste, garlic, fresh herbs, and Worcestershire. Stir to combine and cook 1-2 minutes. Stir in wine and allow to mostly cook off before dusting with flour (arrowroot for gluten free version). Stir to incorporate, then add broth and stir until sauce begins to thicken. Return browned mushrooms to the pan. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Pour meat/mushrooms into 2 quart buttered casserole dish.

For the Vegetable Layer

  • In skillet saute onion & carrot until just tender, then add zucchini continue cooking for 3-4 minutes. Stir in frozen peas (or cooked fresh peas). Season with salt & pepper to taste. Pour veggies over browned meat/musrooms in casserole dish.

For the Potato Layer

  • Boil potatoes until tender, drain, then add 4 Tablespoons butter, buttermilk, 1/2 tsp. fresh sage, salt & pepper and mash. Spoon potatoes on top of meat/vegetable layers.
  • Take a fork and scratch a pattern into top of mashed potatoes. Dot with remaining Tablespoon butter. Bake until golden 40 – 45 minutes. Finish under broiler for nice brown peaks. Let stand for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Notes

If you’re looking for a low-carb option, use cauliflower mash instead of mashed potatoes.