Is there anything more delicious than shepherd’s pie? Savory meat swimming in gravy, studded with tender vegetables topped off with smooth and fluffy mashed potatoes? Dream meal right there. Shepherd’s pie is one of my ultimate comfort foods. I think I could eat it for every meal straight for a week and not be sick of it. Pie day is coming up (March 14th, get it?!) so I made this guy to celebrate pie of the shepherd’s variety.
First things first, shepherd’s pie is supposedly made with lamb and cottage pie is made with other meats. But really, what’s in a name, right? As long as it’s a potato topped pie, it’s shepherd’s pie in my books. Growing up, it was my all time most favorite thing to eat ever. My mom made it with ground pork (because we didn’t eat beef back then and there was no ground lamb to be seen) and topped it off with homemade mashed potatoes. I lived to lick the mashed potato spoon, much the same way other kids lived to lick frosting off beaters.
As a holdover from my childhood days, I like a shepherd’s pie with a high potato to meat ratio: I’m talking three-quarters potato to one-quarter meat filling. But, since not everyone in this household is an extreme potato lover (ahem, Mike), I eased it up a bit to more of a two-thirds potato, one-third meat situation. And then I proceeded to scrape off extra potato tops for myself.
It was hard not to – I made a roasted garlic cream cheese mash and I think they were what totally made this whole pie. I had to stop myself from eating the whole thing because I really wanted leftovers. I should have made a double batch because, I like big pies and I cannot lie. Next time, next time.
Shepherd’s Pie with Roasted Garlic Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes Recipe
- 3 large russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 3-4 cloves roasted garlic*
- 2 tablespoons butter, at room temp
- 2 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temp
- 1/4-1/2 cup milk
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 small carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1/4 cup beef broth (you can sub water, if desired)
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 1/2 cup corn
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1-2 tablespoon butter, if desired
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Place peeled, cut and rinsed off potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Salt the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes or until fork tender.
While the potatoes are cooking, make the pie filling. Heat a bit of oil over medium-high heat in a large oven proof skillet. When the oil is hot, add the diced onions and brown slightly, 2 minutes or so. Add the garlic and carrots and cook until slightly tender, 2-3 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up into pieces. When browned and cooked through, drain off the fat (if any) and add the broth (or water), tomato paste, and thyme. Stir and cook over medium low. Stir in the the frozen peas and corn. Mix well, taste and season with salt and pepper. Place in the bottom of an oven-safe casserole dish or if your skillet is oven-friendly, just spread it out evenly.
When the potatoes are cooked, drain well and return to the pot. Add the roasted garlic. Over very, very low heat, mash the potatoes and garlic. Stir in the butter and cream cheese. Stir in the milk until desired consistency. (I like a pretty stiff mash for shepherd’s pie.) Don’t over work the potatoes! Taste and season generously. Top the meat with the mashed potatoes and dot with tiny cubes of butter, if desired.
Bake until the potatoes are golden brown and crispy, about 30 minutes. If needed, broil for 5-8 minutes for an extra golden potato top. Enjoy warm.
Note: To roast my garlic, I just lop off the tops, drizzle a bit of oil on, wrap well in foil and toss it in a 400°F oven for about 30 minutes. When they’re done you can squeeze them right out. Here’s a link on how to roast garlic if you want more details.