Tuesday, April 24, 2012

American Shepherd's Pie

American Shepherd's Pie, known elsewhere as Cottage Pie, is a mixture of ground beef and vegetables, topped with mashed potatoes and cheese and a great way to use up leftovers.

American Shepherd's Pie

What a gorgeous few days it has been down here in South Mississippi, and while it's a tiny bit cooler for a couple of days, I'm gonna sneak this Shepherd's Pie in real quick while I can. I actually made it a couple weeks back when I shared it with a few folks who were asking for my recipe, but then it got kinda hot early, so I held off on sharing it here on the site.

Shepherd's Pie is really not much more than a baked meat and vegetable casserole topped with potatoes, often using leftovers. It's a little like a beef pot pie made with ground beef instead of roast meat. To the best of my knowledge, Shepherd's Pie in the U.S. is actually what would be considered Cottage Pie on the other side of the pond. Gastronomically speaking, an authentic Shepherd's pie is traditionally made using lamb, hence the name since, well, that is the animal most associated with a shepherd. Cottage Pie is a similar version made with beef.

If you ask for Cottage Pie in the United States, it's not likely that many people will know what you mean, but mention Shepherd's Pie, the majority of folks know exactly what it is. We don't eat a lot of lamb in the United States, so we call the version made with ground beef, Shepherd's Pie, and beef is what most folks here in The South would expect if you were to serve them Shepherd's Pie. Well, considering we Yanks have always been a bit stubborn and somewhat rebellious when it comes to being told what to do, Shepherd's Pie is what I'm gonna call mine too, though I guess I'll tack on the American to be clear.

Of course, as always with most classic recipes, Shepherd's Pie is widely varied in what ingredients it contains, generally depending on what you grew up with. Mine is pretty much a very basic version. Here's how I make it.

Butter a 2-1/2 quart baking dish and set aside. Brown 2 pounds of ground beef in a skillet, breaking up into smaller pieces; drain off any excess oil.

Add the bell pepper and onion.

Add the garlic and carrots and cook, stirring regularly, for about 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

Add the drained tomatoes and sauce.

Add seasonings, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce and flour and cook for about 5 minutes longer.

Add half of the cheese and the frozen peas; transfer to baking dish.

Spoon potatoes on top. You can spread them out into an even full layer across the top or spoon dollops on top, as I have pictured it here, which actually makes it easier to establish and spoon out individual servings.

Top with cheese.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F for about 35 minutes or until bubbly and top is light brown; remove and let rest 10 minutes.

Dig in!

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Recipe: American Shepherd's Pie

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 20 min |Cook time: 30 min | Yield: About 6 to 8 servings

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 (10 ounce) can mild Rotel tomatoes, drained
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama), or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 cup beef stock or broth
  • Couple dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded cheese, divided
  • 4 cups mashed potatoes (see note)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 2-1/2 quart baking dish and set aside.

Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking up into smaller pieces; drain off any excess oil. Add the onion, bell pepper, carrots and garlic; cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender. Add the seasonings, tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce and flour; cook for about 5 minutes longer. Add half of the cheese and the frozen peas; transfer to baking dish. Transfer to baking dish. Drop dollops of potatoes on top and sprinkle potatoes with remaining cheese.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F for about 35 minutes or until bubbly and top is light brown; remove and let rest 10 minutes.

Cook's Note: Can substitute a small can of drained, diced or stewed tomatoes for the Rotel. Sauteed, sliced mushrooms or cooked green beans and sweet corn are all nice additions.

Homemade Potatoes: Peel and quarter 4 medium sized russets or Yukon gold potatoes, boil in plenty of water and 2 teaspoons of salt until tender, about 20-25 minutes; drain. Add 2 tablespoons butter and mash, adding a few tablespoons of milk at a time until potatoes are well moistened and fluffy.

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Posted by on April 24, 2012
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  1. This is a great way to use up all kinds of leftover odds and ends! I think I may have a few things in the fridge to throw this together, thanks, Mary, yours looks delicious! anne

    1. Yep, it's a great leftovers dish, which I am certain is most likely how it came about! Enjoy Anne!

  2. This dish is a favorite of mine and I like the herbs and spices you've used to kick it up a notch.

    1. Yeah, it can be a bit dull otherwise - I really think that seasonings can make this dish shine!

  3. Just look at that cheesy potato goodness on top!

  4. I had shepard pie one time. My friend bragged that her Mom who was English had the best recipe ever. It smelled divine however that was the only good thing about it. Your recipe obviously has all the necessary ingredients to make itva truly tasty dish. I am convinced I must make this soon. Thanks Mary!

    1. It can be made very bland - I hope that I've resolved that!

  5. Hi Mary, Shepard's Pie looks wonderful! Your Lemon Ice Box pie was a great hit in our home. I added Tang instead of Lemonade and it was awesome! Thanks so much. http://praycookblog.com/2012/04/dessert-of-the-week-lemon-icebox-pie/#comments

    1. Glad y'all enjoyed that Catherine - love the idea of using Tang too!

  6. We have that exact same casserole dish and I love it for cooks like this.

  7. We make this at our house and it's my daughter's favorite, only we just use seasoned hamburger and mashed potatoes on top with brown gravy. We call it "hamburger roast" as that's what it was called when they served it at my school when I was a kid! Yummy!

  8. Made this today and it was a hit with the very picky husband! I was a little leary of it when I scanned all the ingredients, but all of it came together nicely. Only thing I did different was use a can of peas and carrots. Might add in some corn next time. Thanks for a keeper!

    1. Hi Angela! It's not the prettiest dish on the block but I like it especially when it's chilly outside and it's very versatile with the veggies. I'm so happy to hear your husband enjoyed it - that's always a bonus in my book!!

  9. Help me Mary! Making this right now - Did you use mozzarella cheese or cheddar for this recipe? From the pictures it looks like moz.

    1. Hi Amy! I'm so sorry I missed your question but I had a big family reunion this weekend & was away from the computer. You can use any cheese you like - I used a white cheddar in these pictures but I often use regular yellow too. I haven't used Mozzarella but I'm sure it would work as well!

  10. Mary, This looks wonderful, and sure ain’t what Nana used to make. Irish fare is excruciatingly bland. When the weather turns cooler, and my wife and I want a break from our diets, I’ve got to make this. One of the lady’s at church suggested that I substitute the potatoes for finely chopped cauliflower. I suggested that she go to Confession before receiving the Sacraments. That is just so wrong on so many levels.
    We used to make this with lamb. When I was a kid, back in the early 50’s, lamb was on a par with, or sometimes cheaper, then ground chuck. We used to make it with a white cheddar or Coolea cheese (Irish; similar to Gouda). Believe it or not, way back when, white cheddar was cheaper because it was considered inferior to yellow cheddar. Go figure.
    Thank you God bless.

  11. Hi, I found your recipe and made it last night and it was a HUGE hit. I was curious though, in the ingredients it says "divided" after the cheese. I didn't see in the instructions where cheese was used at more than once. I just sprinkled all of it on top and baked. Did I miss something else delicious??? :-)

    1. You're right, cheese on top! I used to stir half of it into the meat mix with the peas, but when I re-shot this I totally forgot to.

    2. Fixed! Thanks for pointing that out. I didn't even notice I had left out a line of instructions. Putting some of the cheese in the meat mixture helps to bind it along with the flour, but I'm glad that everybody enjoyed it despite my editing!! Thanks Camela!!


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