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Shepherd’s Pie With Ground Beef (Cottage Pie, I Guess)

September 18, 2014

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You know what’s crazy? Life! Goodness, I haven’t posted a recipe for quite awhile. But the weather around here has been cooling quickly, which always makes me want to slow down and cook something hearty. My first Fall-feeling meal of the year? Shepherd’s pie.

Ok, well it’s not exactly shepherd’s pie, because I used beef as opposed to lamb. With beef, people give it all kinds of names like Cattle Rancher Pie or Cottage Pie (which seems to be the most popular). Whatever you wanna call it is fine with me, I just want you to give it a try because it’s really quite delicious.

There are two parts, the filling, and the mashed potato crust. Let’s start with the mashed potatoes. Here’s what you need:

Mashed Potatoes

• 5-10 medium/small potatoes (how many depends on how big they are – if you aren’t sure you have enough, err on the side of too much, because you can always save the extra potatoes and eat them on their own later)
• 3/4 stick of butter
• 2/3 cup cream
• 2/3 cup milk
• 1 egg yolk (not pictured)
• 1/4 cup mayonnaise
• 2 tsp garlic powder
• 1 tsp nutmeg
• salt & pepper to taste

First, wash, peel & dice the potatoes. Add them to a pot of boiling water and cook until tender (about 15 minutes if they’re cut into a medium dice). When the potatoes are about done, melt the butter in a saucepan or microwave, and heat the cream & milk in another saucepan or in another bowl in the microwave.

I myself prefer rustic mashed potatoes with the skins and all, but for this dish we want the potatoes really smooth. So after they’re cooked, use an electric hand mixer to beat the potatoes up pretty good. Add the butter and mix again. Then add the mayo, nutmeg, garlic powder, and about half of the milk/cream mixture, and whip that up as best as you can. Then add the egg yolk and mix in quickly (to keep it from coagulating if the potatoes are too hot), along with salt and pepper to taste. If it seems too thick, add more of the milk/cream and whip it again. Repeat this process until the potatoes are creamy and smooth. Set aside, covered.

Next, let’s create the filling. Here’s what you need:

Shepherd's pie filling


• 2 lbs ground beef (not pictured)
• 1 yellow onion, small dice
• 2 carrots, small dice
• 1 parsnip, small dice
• 1 rutabaga, small dice
• 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
• 3 Tbsp AP flour (not pictured)
• 2 cups chicken stock
• 2 Tbsp tomato paste
• 2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
• 2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
• 1 cup frozen peas
• 1 cup frozen sweet corn
• salt & pepper to taste
• extra virgin olive oil

I don’t typically cook with extra virgin olive oil, but we aren’t going to be cooking at a high temp, so it works well in this dish. First, make sure you cut everything before you start cooking so it’s all ready. That’s key, so you can focus on the food while it’s cooking, as opposed to feeling rushed to chop things for step 2 before step 1 burns.

Preheat your oven to 400, and heat a pan on medium low heat. Add about 1-2 tbsp olive oil to the pan and immediately add the onions. Sweat that for a minute or two, then add the carrots, parsnips & rutabaga. Add a pinch or two of salt and sweat those veggies for 2-3 minutes, until the onions become translucent. Add the garlic and stir, then immediately add the beef and turn the heat up to medium high.

The reason you turn the heat up is because 2 lbs of beef is a lot. If the heat is too low, then all the liquid from the beef will just sit in the pan and everything will boil. You don’t want that. Kicking up the heat will cook the liquid off faster, but watch it closely because you don’t want it to burn.

Once the beef is browned and cooked, add the flour and stir to coat everything evenly. Then add the chicken stock, tomato paste, thyme, rosemary & parsley, and stir together well so everything is mixed evenly. Remove the mix from the heat and add salt and pepper until it tastes right. Once the salt and pepper levels are good, add the peas and corn, mix together well, and put the mix into a baking dish. This is enough for a 7×11 pan, and a 7×7 pan. Cover the top of the filling with mashed potatoes, starting around the edges and making sure the surface is sealed so the juices don’t bubble out.

Uncooked Shephard's Pie


Bake in your preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove it from the oven and let is sit for at least 15 minutes to cool down, or you’re gonna have some burned tongues around the table. This will feed 6-8 people, depending on how hungry everyone is.

Shepherd's Pie


Greta has become particularly opposed to green vegetables lately, so I knew this dish was a winner when the peas were clearly visible and she devoured two plates full. But the flavor was also deep enough for the adults, too. So the next time you have a cooler-than-usual day, give this dish a try. I guarantee we’ll be making it again soon.

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What do you think?

  1. Caitlin says:

    Hi, looks delicious! With weather cooling down in Australia – just in time to make :)
    I was just wondering when and how much Worcestershire sauce you put in?

    Thanks, Caitie

  2. Hannah says:

    I just made this recipe and it is a real winner! I know a recipe is a keeper when my boyfriend declares the meal the best thing I’ve ever cooked. I have made shepherd’s pie before with other recipes but this will be my new standby. loved the variety of veggies in this version – I have never cooked with all the root vegetables before so I learned something new. The only thing I did differently was to make the mashed potatoes my standard way (no egg/mayo) but next time I will try the above commenter’s idea to melt butter on the top!

  3. Whitney says:

    Chris – your recipes never disappoint! I’m looking forward to trying this one out soon! I’m really interested to see how all the great ingredients taste together. We make shepherd’s pie (or I guess I should say cottage pie) fairly regularly, but we do a sweet potato topping. I keep it super simple though, just a pound of ground beef with some seasoned salt, a bag of mixed veggies, and mashed sweet potatoes (with milk & butter added) on top. Then, I sprinkle some cheese on for the last few minutes while it’s in the oven. It’s a huge hit – especially with our 2 year old! If you & the family are sweet potato fans, you might try that out sometime – it gives it a different flavor. Thanks for sharing your gift of cooking with us!

  4. Alex says:

    This recipe looks delicious, and I’m about to try it. But I’ll be replacing the extra virgin olive oil with refined, since it hass a much higher smoking point (437F) then extra virgin, which burns at 374F.

  5. Hilary says:

    Looks so good! My grandma used to use left over roast beef in her shepards pie (roast beef on Sunday, then shepards pie on Monday – that’s how my dad grew up). I think she had a countertop meat grinder that she ran the leftover beef through, then used a recipe similar to this one. It was always delicious, but a completely different texture.

  6. Renee says:

    This looks delicious, and I’m definitely going to try it sometime!

  7. Brandilyn says:

    Already planning how I can adapt this for David’s gluten/dairy allergies…holy crap it looks so good. Thanks!

  8. Trilby C. says:

    This really makes me wish for the cooler days of fall now! Speaking of not posting recipes for a while…I seem to recall you making some (smoked?) pulled pork earlier last spring or this summer? If so, I’d still really love for a play by play on how that went down. It looked so delicious in your pictures. The reason I believe it was smoked is because I tell people all the time that, ahem, my husband has recently started smoking. But not THAT kind of smoking – the good kind, you know, with a smoker and meat. :) Not sure how else to phrase that…

  9. Kellu says:

    This was a staple at my Irish-American grandmother’s house growing up, and she only ever used beef but we still called it shepherd’s pie too. She wouldn’t use tomato paste in the meat, but she’d make brown gravy with the pan drippings to put over each slide of the “pie” when serving. She’d also dollop slices of butter on top of the mashed potatoes before putting it in the over, it melts and makes the top nice and golden.

  10. LOVE Shepherds Pie! Just had it the other night…on those same white plates ;) It’s such a great meal when the weather is turning chilly!

  11. Melanie says:

    We use ground beef and still call it shephard’s pie, but the only veggie we put in it, is corn. :)

  12. Sarah R says:

    Thanks for the recipe! I love Shepherd’s Pie.

    Question – where do the mayonnaise, egg yolk, garlic powder and nutmeg come into play? They’re listed under the other potato ingredients, but you don’t mention them in the recipe and I wasn’t sure when or to what you added them.

  13. Angel L says:

    Love this! My husband makes Sheppards pie often (cottage pie) His recipe looks a lot like yours except he adds a little curry powder. Not a lot, just enough to boost flavor. It is so good.

  14. Meagan Briggs says:

    I don’t know when it will “cool” off here, but this looks so amazing! I love a good shepherds pie. Adding this to my list of recipes!

  15. LIndsey F says:

    Yay… I was just thinking yesterday, I could really use some new recipes from Chris. Can’t wait to give this one a try. It’s like a grown up rendition of one of my favorites, tater top hot dish.

    And who doesn’t love a rutabaga!!

    • Chris says:

      For some reason, I just love rutabaga with beef. Probably because it has almost a horseradish note to it. If you make the dish, be sure to come back and let me know how you liked it and what you did differently!

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