Shepherd’s Pie is basically a casserole made of cooked meat with gravy which gets topped with a layer of mashed potatoes and then baked. It is comfort food at it’s best! As with all recipes there are many variations of Shepherd’s Pie, including some with a layer of vegetables as well.
Here in America, Shepherd’s Pie is typically made with beef.
In England, Australia and New Zealand Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb or mutton, and “Cottage Pie” is made with beef.
To make this (American) version of Shepherd’s Pie all you will need to know is how to:
Many (more advanced) recipes call for various other vegetables, like chopped onions, carrots, garlic, peas or corn to be added to (or layered on) the beef mixture. Still other recipes suggest that you need to know how to make your own gravy.
But if you’re a beginner cook, it’s perfectly OK to use a jar of store bought gravy, which is what I’m going to do here.
At the grocery store buy:
You will also need about 1/3 cup of milk and 4 Tablespoons of butter. I’ll assume that you already have those two ingredients in your refrigerator! (If you don’t, do buy some milk and butter as well!)
Start by getting the potatoes washed, peeled, cooked and mashed. I’ve written a post here on mashed potatoes.
While the potatoes are cooking, brown the beef (video) in a frying pan. Be sure to drain off the excess fat.
Stir in the beef gravy.
If you have any extra spices in your cupboard you can add them as well. Some options are: 1/2 teaspoon of garlic or onion powder or 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce.
Spread the meat mixture over the bottom of a 2-quart casserole dish. I’m using an 8-inch square baking dish.
Now spread the mashed potatoes on top.
Using a fork, fluff the top.
Then cut 1 tablespoon of butter into really tiny bits and dot the bits over the mashed potatoes. This will help to brown the top of the potatoes.
(You could sprinkle on some Parmesan cheese or grated cheddar cheese on the top if you like.)
Bake the casserole in a preheated 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. It will look like the picture below when you take it out of the oven.
Sometime the gravy will bubble up through the potato topping which is just fine.
A WORD OF CAUTION:
You can put the Shepherd’s Pie under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the top a little bit more, BUT NOT IF YOU USED A GLASS BAKING DISH AS I HAVE DONE.
Generally speaking, (Pyrex) glass baking dishes are suitable for baking only. When used under a broiler, the extreme fluctuation in temperature can cause the dish to crack. If you plan on browning YOUR Shepherd’s Pie under the broiler, use a metal baking pan, not a glass one!
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