Shepherd’s Pie is a traditional English dish typically made with lamb or mutton. In the United States, where a beef-eating culture predominates over a lamb-eating culture, “shepherd’s pie” is most commonly made with ground beef.
Whatever you choose to call it, a shepherd’s Pie is essentially a casserole assembled with a layer of cooked veggies and meat and mashed potato toppings, baked in the oven until the mashed potatoes are thoroughly browned.
The outcome is delicious comfort food that you’re sure to love, and this article will show you how to make it from start to finish!
Tips for Cooking Shepherd’s Pie
The following tips have been compiled to help you get the best out of shepherd’s pie recipes, so pay close attention:
Begin with a sofrito – A proper recipe for Shepherd’s Pie should always begin with a sofrito, which is onion, garlic, carrots, and celery sautéed until they develop a delicious quality over fairly low heat. It’s the key to a wonderful flavor basis, and it’s a technique utilized in a variety of cuisines, including Italian cuisine.
Give your filling time to cool – Before topping with potato, allow the filling to cool. This allows the potato to develop a thicker quality, making it easier to distribute across the top of the filling and preventing it from seeping into the filling.
Use creamier mashed potatoes – Mashed potatoes that are creamier inconsistency are easier to distribute and provide a better overall eating experience. Dry, hard mashed potatoes tend to be unpleasant; ideally, you want the mash to be on the verge of collapsing rather than cutting cleanly through it like cake when you attempt to break it open.
Making shepherd’s Pie ahead of time – You can choose to prepare the entire meal ahead of time if you want. Put together the casserole, cover it, and store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake. Ideally, you bake it within the first three days of making it.
When you’re ready to bake the shepherd’s Pie, remove it from the refrigerator approximately 20 minutes before the baking time to allow it to come to room temperature. After that, remove the cover and bake it.
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Cooking Time for Shepherd’s Pie
The following timing guidelines are ideal when making shepherd’s pie recipes:
Sauteing the veggies over medium heat
6 to 10 minutes
Simmering the broth
Baking a Shepherd’s Pie at 400 F
- One teaspoon of salt, add extra for taste
- Three large (1½ to 2 pounds) potatoes, peeled and quartered
- Eight tablespoons (1 stick) of butter, divided
- One medium onion, chopped to make up about 1½ cups
- 1 to 2 cups of mixed vegetables, including diced carrots, corn, or peas
- 1½ pounds of ground round beef
- ½ cup of beef broth
- One teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
- Pepper and other seasonings of choice
- In a medium-sized pot, place the potatoes, which should have been peeled and quartered. Cover the potatoes with a layer of cold water at least an inch thick. Put a teaspoon of salt into the mixture. Allow the potatoes to boil, then reduce to low heat and cook until the potatoes are soft (this should take about 20 minutes).
- Set the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and leave it to heat up.
- Melt four tablespoons of butter in a large sauté skillet over medium heat while the potatoes are cooking. Pour in the chopped onions and cook, occasionally stirring, until the onions are soft; this should take about 6 to 10 minutes.
- If you’re using them, vegetables should be added as per their cooking time. Carrots should be cooked alongside onions because they take the same time to cook as onions.
- If using peas or corn, add them near the end of the onion cooking time or after the meat begins to cook, as these ingredients typically take very little time to cook.
- Combine the ground beef, onions, and veggies and add them to the contents of the pan. Cook until the meat is no longer pink. If necessary, drain any extra fat from the pan (if the fat content is more than one tablespoon). Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour in the Worcestershire sauce and beef broth into the pan. It would help reduce the heat to low and let the broth simmer at this cooking stage. Cook for 10 minutes, uncovered, adding more beef broth as needed to prevent the meat from losing all its moisture.
- Taste the cooked filling and season with additional salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, or other ingredients as desired.
- Remove the potatoes from the pot when they are done cooking (a fork should easily pierce them) and set them in a dish with four tablespoons of butter. Taste and season with salt and pepper after mashing with a potato masher or fork.
- In a large baking sheet (such as a 9 x 13-inch casserole), spread the cooked mixture out equally.
- On top of the ground meat, spread the mashed potatoes. With a fork, scuff up the surface of the mashed potatoes to create peaks that will brown nicely. You may also make creative patterns in the mashed potatoes using a fork if you want.
- Place the baking pan in a 400°F oven and leave it for 30 minutes, or until its contents are browned and bubbling. If necessary, broil the mashed potatoes for the last few minutes to brown the surface.
- (Take care when broiling in Pyrex or glass dishes; the strong heat of the broiler has been known to fracture them.) This shouldn’t be an issue if you’re using a metal or ceramic or casserole dish.)
- Your shepherd pie is ready to be served.
If you need more recipe ideas to explore, you may be interested in watching this recipe.
This recipe is a long process, but the results are worth the effort. The entire recipe takes 65 minutes to make, including a prep time of 15 minutes and a cook time of 50 minutes.