I have been making Shepherd’s Pie in some manifestation or another for over 15 years. Before my daughter developed a severe food allergy, it was canned soup and packaged mashed potatoes. Now all our ingredients have to be fresh and preservative free and let me tell you, it is SO much better this way. Yes, it does require a little more time but the results are the most creamy potatoes topping a moist, flavorful meat and vegetable base that makes my husband glad he’s Irishand can claim the dish! I usually make it in one big pan, but for special occasions an individual dish can make anyone feel special.
From America’s Test Kitchen
*Don’t use ground beef that’s fatter than 93 percent or the dish will be greasy
1 1/2 pounds 93 percent lean ground beef
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons water, salt, and pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg yolk
8 scallions, green parts only, sliced thin
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
4 ounces white mushrooms, trimmed and chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons Madeira or ruby port (apple cider vinegar is a non-alcoholic substitute)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups beef broth
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Toss beef with 2 tablespoons water, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and baking soda in bowl until thoroughly combined. Set aside for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, place potatoes in a medium saucepan, add water to just cover and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are soft and tip of paring knife inserted into potato meets no resistance, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain potatoes and return to saucepan. Return saucepan to low heat and cook, shaking pot occasionally, until any surface moisture on potatoes has evaporated, about 1 minute. This makes for fluffy mashed potatoes without the extra moisture. Remove pan from heat and mash potatoes well. Stir in melted butter. Whisk together milk and egg yolk in small bowl, then stir into potatoes. Stir in scallions and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and set aside.
Heat oil in a broiler-safe 10-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are just starting to soften and dark bits form on the bottom of the pan, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and garlic; cook until bottom of the pan is dark brown, about 2 minutes.
Add Madeira and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until evaporated, about 1 minute. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Add broth, Worcestershire, thyme, bay leaf, and carrots; bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce heat to medium-low, add beef in 2-inch chunks to broth and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook until beef is cooked through, 10-12 minutes, stirring and breaking up meat chunks with 2 forks halfway through. Stir cornstarch and remaining 2 teaspoons water together in bowl. Stir cornstarch mixture into the meat filling and continue to simmer for 30 seconds. Remove thyme and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Adjust oven rack to 5 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Place mashed potatoes in a large zip lock bag and snip off 1 corner to create a 1-inch opening. Pipe potatoes in an even layer over filling, making sure to cover the entire surface. Smooth potatoes with back of spoon, then use the tines of a fork to make ridges over surface.
Place skillet on rimmed baking sheet and broil until potatoes are golden brown and crusty and filling is bubbly, 10-15 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Goes beautifully with the other Irish recipes recently featured on withHEART. Enjoy!