Shepherd's (Cottage) Pie

January 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

So it looks like the item I ordered from CSN Stores is on back order until Feb. 16. I’m a bit annoyed since the site didn’t list the item as back ordered until AFTER I placed my order. This seems to be the norm with CSN Stores with not-so-popular items. It really wouldn’t have been a problem if the site just stated the item was back ordered. So my excitement has fizzled a bit and the review will be delayed until next month. I think I’ll wait to share what it is so it can be a surprise. It is food related but that’s all I’ll reveal for now. And if for some reason it gets delayed even further, I think I’ll just cancel the order and order it from Amazon.

Lately it seems I’ve gotten into the habit of cooking larger than usual batches of food and relying on leftovers for dinner, mainly because I’ve been busy. Problem is we don’t finish all the leftovers before I make more. It’s gotten so bad that I’ve been giving food away to relatives. Just this weekend, 3 lbs of pulled pork went to my MIL and SIL and I still have 2 bags of it in the freezer. I have several ramekins in the freezer of other dishes too. And now I’ve got a couple of shepherd’s pies to add to them. Good thing the pies will last quite a while in the freezer. Maybe some of you are asking, “What the hell is the difference between shepherd’s and cottage pies?” Good question and I don’t know if I have a definitive answer. Some believe that a shepherd’s pie uses minced lamb and cottage pies with beef. Make sense, shepherds tend sheep. But what do cottages tend? Just kidding. But it seems that the term cottage pie came around first to refer to any meat pies while the term shepherd’s pie came later and referred to minced lamb pie. But apparently this confusion of what’s the correct term for which kind of pie doesn’t just apply to us Yanks. Folks in UK have some dispute whether a minced beef pie should/could be called shepherd’s pie (or if we really want to be pedantic about it, shepherds’ pie). I even looked up on some of the Irish and British pubs in San Diego and all of them call their minced beef pies Shepherds/Shepherd’s Pie. Hell, even one made its shepherds pie with a flaky crust! There was one, however, that had both lamb and beef in their pies. So for this post, I’ll use Shepherd’s Pie to mean any minced meat pie. And if anyone doesn’t like it, you can bloody well piss off, you tosser.

I’m going to assume there’s already leftover mashed potatoes to be used so I won’t go into on how to prepare mashed potatoes. Just use your favorite recipe. We typically have a lot of mashed potatoes leftover so this is one of two ways that I like to use them up. The other one is potato croquette but that’s another post. The pie can be made in one larger dish but I like to use individual ramekins so everyone has their own pie. I like to add mushroom, broccoli and cauliflower to up the veggie content. You can use frozen broccoli and cauliflower too.

Adapted from Alton Brown 

Ingredients for the meat filling:

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced small
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pounds ground beef or lamb
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablepoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves)
  • 4-5 white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen broccoli and/or cauliflower florets
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the canola oil into a large saute pan and set over medium high heat.Add the onion, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, saute just until they begin to take on color, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the ground meat, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 5-8 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.

Add peas to meat mixture and spread evenly into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish or four 6-oz ramekins.

Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula. I sprinkled some grated Parmesan cheese on this particular one but I really should have left it off since it made the top of the crush brown much too dark. The added saltiness from the Parmesan also made it a bit too salty for me because I forgot that there was already Parmesan cheese in the mashed potatoes – doh!

Place on a half sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving. Be careful when digging in because the filling may still be piping mouth-burning hot.

The Mister likes this version, which is good since I did make these for him. He is the one who always orders shepherd’s pie at restaurants. I have found shepherd’s pies typically on the bland side but this version is pretty good. Of course you can always use leftover meat, say maybe some pulled pork or shredded chicken. Hmm, then would that make them Farmer’s Pie? Ah, whatever.

Hope everyone’s week is going well and only a couple of more days until the weekend!


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