Tracing its roots back to Ireland, Shepard’s Pie is a humble dish of meat and vegetables, topped with mashed potatoes. When making something simple as this you can run the risk of being boring and forgettable if not properly executed, and not properly seasoned. Follow our steps below to Get Cheffy and dress up standard meat and potatoes for company.
FOR THE BASE:
- 1-2 pounds of ground beef
- We use an 80/20 fat ratio
- 2-3 Large Carrots trimmed, peeled, and finely diced
- 1 Small Red Onion finely diced
- 1 Cup Frozen Peas
- 1-2 Cups Beef Stock
- 16 oz (one bottle) of Beer (optional)
- 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
- 1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
- 1 Tablespoon Sherry Vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon Soy
- 1-2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
- 1/2 Teaspoon Honey
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1-2 Tablespoons Flour
- 1 Teaspoon Table Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Fresh Ground Black Pepper
FOR THE MASHED POTATOES:
- 1-2 Pounds of Yukon Gold Potatoes peeled and sliced thinly into planks or cubes
- 2 Egg Yolks
- 1 Cup Sour Cream
- 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) Unsalted Butter
- Salt and Pepper
- Begin by browning off your beef. To minimize the amount of pots and pans, use an oven safe skillet (either all metal or cast iron), that can go from the stove top, directly into the oven, and back out again (you’ll serve and present the final dish in this skillet impressing your friends and definitely looking Cheffy…). Add all of your ground beef to your skillet and turn your burner to high heat. Once you hear sizzling, begin to chop up your ground beef while allowing it to sear and achieve a dark brown color. After 5-10 minutes over high heat, drain the fat from the pan, and return to medium/medium-high heat until a deep brown color has formed, and all of the ground beef is cooked. Lower the heat to low/medium-low and add your garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, table salt, and ground black pepper. Incorporate your dried spices into the beef and allow them to “bloom” in the hot fat of the skillet (1-2 minutes) before proceeding. Add your chopped onion and carrot to the skillet and incorporate into the beef. Your onion will release moisture into the pan as it cooks and reacts with the salt. Use this to your advantage and scrape up any browned bits stuck to the pan. After cooking for another 2-3 minutes, add your tomato paste and honey, and incorporate into the mixture. Similar to dried herbs and spices, tomato paste will want to “bloom” in warm fat for a few minutes to activate and deepen its flavor compounds. After another 2-3 minutes, begin to add your liquids starting with your soy, Worcestershire, and Sherry vinegar. Incorporate these flavorful liquids into the beef before adding your beer (if not using beer, you may proceed to the next step of adding your flour). Turn your heat back to high, and cook down your mixture until most of the liquid from the beer has evaporated. Add your 1-2 tablespoons flour to the mixture, and continue to cook over high heat for another 1-2 minutes until all flour has been absorbed. Keeping your heat on high, add your beef broth. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, scrape up the bottom of the pan while the beef broth comes to a boil. Depending on the size and shape of your skillet, you’ll want to boil your mixture down to a point where it forms a medium-thickness gravy-like sauce. You’ll be putting a sturdy mixture of mashed potatoes onto the top of this mixture so it cannot be overly soupy or thin. Additionally, you’ll want to end up with something that’s not too close to the top of your pan (aim to have at least a half inch to full inch gap between your mixture and the top of your pan when you’re finished reducing your sauce). Lower your heat to a simmer and, after 10-15 minutes of reducing, you should have a thickened mixture that could hold up the weight of mashed potatoes, but still has a “gravy-like” consistency. As your sauce is reducing, make your adjustments for salt, pepper, sour (vinegar) or sweetness (honey); adjust, incrementally as your mixture reduces. Once your sauce has fully thickened and reduced, add your frozen peas (no need to de-thaw ahead of time) and incorporate them into your mixture. Set your pan aside while you make your mashed potatoes.
- Bring a large dutch oven 1/2 full of water to a boil before adding your potatoes. Allow your potatoes to come back to a low boil for 12-15 minutes (test for doneness around the 10 minute mark by taking out one of the larger pieces, and tasting a portion of it….a fully cooked potato that will mash properly will have no resistance under your teeth as you bite down). Once your potatoes are fully cooked through, turn your burner to low, drain your water from the potatoes, and return the, now drained, potatoes back into the dutch oven. Still over low heat, begin to mash the potatoes to release their steam, and drive off any excess moisture that’s left over (1-2 minutes). Turn your heat off, and whisk your egg yolks and sour cream together before adding to your potatoes. Mash, and incorporate the yolk/sour cream mixture into the potatoes before adding your butter. After adding your butter, continue to mash until a cohesive mixture is achieved (1-2 minutes). At this point, your mash will taste rich, but under-seasoned. Taste a small spoonful of your beef and vegetables to level-set on how much salt your potatoes should have. Adjust your potatoes by, incrementally, adding table salt, until you have something that tastes seasoned, but balanced with the strong seasoning of your beef and vegetable mixture.
- To combine the two, allow your potatoes to cool for 10-15 minutes before setting your oven to broil. Using a piping bag, or large ziplock plastic bag, pipe your potatoes to the top of your Shephard’s Pie (we used a ziplock bag and cut a hole in one corner but if you have the large star tips and professional piping bags in your kitchen, get as decorative and extra as your little heart desires, you Cheffy little thing). After you’ve piped your mash onto your beef and vegetable mixture, smooth over with a spatula, and create a decorative wave patter with the tines of a fork before placing under the broiler for 5-7 minutes. Once you’ve browned the top of your potatoes, allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, and serve.
GET CHEFFY TIP- Make this vegetarian and omit the beef entirely. Replace the beef with diced cremini/white button mushrooms and use vegetable stock instead of beef stock.
GET CHEEFY TIP- Don’t let the Get Cheffy kitchen tell you how to make your mashed potatoes. If you have additions like cheese, scallions, etc. that you like to add to your mash, toss it in there (American Cheese and potatoes like being paired together).