Shepherd's Pie is a great, inexpensive recipe when you need something comforting to feed a big crowd and it is absolutely perfect for St. Patrick's Day celebrations! Ground meat, potatoes, onions.... the ingredients are simple, the prep time is minimal and you can bake it off right before guests arrive. With the ground beef and potatoes, your picky eaters will never notice the carrots or peas hiding in the filling. I normally use ground beef for this recipe but made it once with ground lamb and it was fantastic... just not my favorite.
TRADITONAL SHEPHERD'S PIE with PARMESAN MASHED POTATO TOPPING
Makes 4-6 small ramekins or 1 medium casserole
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (or ground lamb if you prefer- or a combination of both)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 small yellow onion, diced small (about 1 cup)
2 carrots, diced very small
2 cloves garlic, finely grated
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup frozen English peas
1 teaspoon fresh Thyme leaves, minced fine
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, minced fine
For the mashed potato topping:
2-3 large potatoes, peeled and diced small
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided n half
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Dice the potatoes. Rinse in cool water. Fill a pot with water. Add the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are just fork tender. Drain well. Mash the potatoes while they are hot and allow to cool slightly. Add the milk, salt, and pepper. Using a hand mixer or any method you prefer, whip the potatoes until they are fluffy. Add the egg yolk and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan. Mix together. Set aside.
In a large skillet or pan, heat the olive oil. Add the ground beef and brown it. Add the onion and carrots. Brown until they are softened, about 3-4 minutes. Drain off excess fat if there is any. Add the tomato paste and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce and cook that for about 1 minute. Add the red wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any bits of flavor on the bottom of your pan. Add the thyme and the parsley. Cook until the wine is mostly reduced. Stir in the chicken stock. Cook 3-4 minutes more. The mixture should be quite thick and paste like. If it is not, cook and stir until most of the liquid is cooked off. Check the seasoning- you may need a bit more salt and pepper. At this point. I often put a quick dash of Tabasco or a pinch of cayenne pepper for some faint heat.
Spray your ramekin or casserole dish with non-stick spray or do what I do and brush the ramekin with a little olive oil and then dust it with some of the grated Parmesan cheese. Fill the ramekin 2/3 full with the meat mixture. Top with the potatoes. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Use a fork to pierce the top so the juice will bubble up through the potatoes. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly hot.