feeling spring – shepherd’s pie

shepherd’s pie with cheesy mashed potato topping, served with irish soda bread

picture of shepherd's pie
bowl of shepherd's pie
picture of irish soda bread

i literally forgot about st. patrick’s day this year until my sister reminded me, but happened to test this recipe last week for shepherd’s pie, so i was unexpectedly prepared for this! i did do late night baking last night so i would at least have the soda bread ready for the kids breakfast in the morning. i used this recipe for my soda bread from sally’s baking addiction and it was delicious and easy. the only thing i was missing was buttermilk, so i used her substitution of vinegar with 2% milk, and that worked just fine.

i used to loveeeee st. patricks day because that meant i got my favorite meal… corned beef and cabbage, haha! i would even ask my mom to make it on my birthday so i would get it twice in march. but with two little ones, i really can’t be bothered to boil corned beef for hours, and i already had all the ingredients for this shepherd’s pie in my fridge/freezer. the best thing about this recipe as opposed to corned beef and cabbage is it’s a great freezer meal! shepherd’s pie can be frozen before or after baking, and tastes just as good out of the freezer as it did on day one. plus, both my kids love it. if you give it a try, let me know what you think in the comments. happy st. paddy’s day everyone!

ingredients

meat filling
1 lb ground beef (i use the organic grass fed ground beef from aldi)
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup red wine
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
about 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion (i used 1/2 a large onion)
2 cloves minced garlic
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon worcestershire
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cup frozen mixed vegetables

potato topping
1 1/2-2 lbs potatoes – i used 6 small russet potatoes, or you could use 2-3 large potatoes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 oz cream cheese
1/3-1/2 cup 2% or whole milk – i start with a third of a cup and add more if needed. you want this to be stiffer than traditional mashed potatoes
salt to taste – i start with a small amount, because we’re also adding cheese and cheese is salty!
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
3/4 – 1 cup grated cheddar cheese

instructions

peel the potatoes, but them into bite sized chunks, and put them in a large pot covered with cold water. turn burner on high and bring them to a boil, then cook them for about 8-10 minutes until fork tender. set a timer if you need to so you don’t forget about them while you’re cooking the filling! preheat oven to 400 degrees. meanwhile, in a heavy bottomed skillet or dutch oven, melt the tablespoon of butter or olive oil over medium high heat and start browning the ground beef. once it’s all the way browned, check how much grease came off the meat. you may need to drain some if it looks too greasy! lower the heat to medium, then add your chopped half an onion and 2 cloves of minced garlic. cook until the onion becomes translucent, and add in the 1 1/2 cups of frozen mixed veggies. cook this until the veggies lose their chill, 2-3 minutes, and then add the thyme, bay leaf, worcestershire, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, and 2 tablespoons of flour. continue cooking this mixture for about 2 minutes, stirring continuously so the flour doesn’t burn to the bottom. then pour in the beef stock/broth and wine. bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer for about 6-7 minutes. remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs.

drain your potatoes once they’re done and return to the pot with the burner still on low. start mashing the potatoes with the burner on to get all the liquid out of the potatoes. add the butter, cream cheese, salt, pepper, and grated cheddar. mash until combined and turn the burner off. i also sometimes add a little seasoned salt to taste if it feels like they’re missing something.

assemble the shepherd’s pie in a 9 inch pie plate by layering the meat mixture on the bottom and potatoes on top. bake at 400 degrees, uncovered for about 35-40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. be careful when baking, if your dish is very full to put a sheet pan under the pie plate, because i’ve had filling run out all over my oven before! enjoy with soda bread and a guinness or glass of red wine 🙂 happy st. paddy’s day! ps. check out my very first cook with me video on youtube to see the exact method i used for this recipe!