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How To Make Shepherd's Pie: The Ultimate Comfort Dish

When the weather starts to turn, it's time to get cozy and whip up some comforting favorites. Shepherd's pie definitely falls into that category for me. In my opinion, this is the ultimate comfort food.

Lamb Filling

1 lb Ground Lamb (or beef)

1 grated carrot, 1 diced carrot

1/2 diced onion

2 celery stalk

2 grated garlic cloves

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp flour

1/2 cup stout or dark ale

1.5 cups water

1 tsp chicken bouillon

1 tbsp ketchup

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp soy

garlic powder, onion powder, dried herbs

3/4 cup English peas

Chopped rosemary

Buttery Mashed Potatoes

1.5 lb russet

3 tbsp butter

3 tbsp sour cream

3 tbsp half and half

1 egg yolk

Pecorino cheese

Start by peeling and shredding 1 large carrot, and then peel and dice another large carrot. Dice two large celery sticks or 3 smaller ones. I don't want to overpower the dish with celery, but it does bring a nice flavor to the table. Dice half a large yellow onion (or 1 small one). These vegetables will form the body of the sauce, resulting in a perfectly thick filling.

Brown your ground lamb in a hot Dutch oven without adding any oil. The lamb's fat will render, providing enough grease to get things going. Allow the lamb to brown deeply, which might take around 15 minutes. Then, add in the carrots, celery, and onion. Sauté until they become soft, translucent, and most of their water content has evaporated. This mixture should reduce by at least half. Grate in 2 cloves of garlic and sauté for a minute. Add 1 tbsp of tomato paste and 1 tbsp of flour, stirring until they form a flavorful, dark base at the bottom of the pot. Don't let this burn though

Lower your heat, and pour in half a cup of stout or dark English ale while scraping up the crispy bits from the bottom of the pot. Add in 1.5 cups of water. Stir in 1 tsp of chicken bouillon, 1 tbsp of ketchup, 2 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce, and 1 tbsp of soy sauce. Season with garlic powder, onion powder, and dried herbs of your choice. I end up just using a sprinkle of Italian herb mix, don't tell the English. Don't forget to add plenty of pepper. Simmer and reduce the mixture for about 20 minutes, allowing the meat to tenderize and the veggies to break down.

While your lamb mixture simmers away, it's time to focus on the buttery perfection that really makes this pie special.

Peel 1.5 lb. of russet potatoes (or any floury mashing potatoes) and cut them into chunks. Place the potato chunks in a pot of cold water, bring it to a simmer, and cook for 10-20 minutes until a knife easily pierces them. Don't forget to salt the cooking liquid. This is also the time to preheat the oven to 400°F.

Drain the potatoes and, if possible, use a fine strainer or sieve to create a smooth mash by pushing the potatoes through. Use a spatula and a little elbow grease and you'll end up with no lumps. Add 3 tbsp of butter, 3 tbsp of sour cream, and 3 tbsp of half and half. Mix until creamy, then add 1 egg yolk and a generous amount of grated pecorino romano cheese. Give that one final mix to incorporate the yolk and cheese, then you're good to build this.

Your lamb mixture should be cooled enough to incorporate 3/4 cup of frozen English peas. Finely chop a few rosemary leaves and mix that in as well. I like to leave it till the end, as the rosemary can be really fragrant.

Transfer your lamb mix to a baking dish. Top it with dollops of the mashed potato mixture. Use a spatula to spread the potatoes evenly and a fork to create a textured surface. Place the dish in the middle rack of your preheated oven at 400°F and bake for approximately 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, your pie should be bubbling, but the top might not be browned to perfection yet. Pop your oven onto a low broil and move your pie to the top rack. Keep an eye on the browning then remove it from the oven once it's nice and golden.

Now, the hardest part: letting it rest for about 20-30 minutes before diving in. Use this time wisely to prepare a salad or sneak a few bites of those irresistible browned bits from the top.

This shepherd's pie is the epitome of comfort food – decadently rich yet surprisingly balanced. The lamb and stout beer lend sweetness, while the sour cream adds a delightful touch of acidity. The vegetables melt to create the perfect mouthfeel, and every bite feels like a warm, comforting embrace on a rainy, cold night. So, next time the weather turns, treat yourself to this shepherd's pie, and cozy up with a taste of autumn on your plate.



Hey, I'm Cameron, and I'm glad you're here. I post new recipes every week, all intended to build your confidence in the kitchen, each one with video tutorials to help. Craving something specific? Drop me a note in my contact form! 

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