Home Cooking Comfort - Shepherd's Pie

It's been rainy for the last few days and we all needed a little comfort. Shepherd's Pie is not only savory and filling but it's also an old fashioned comfort food. It has a lot of steps but once you taste it, it's worth every second of the preparation. It takes about an hour of prep and twenty-five minutes of baking but then, mmmmmm. It looks complicated. Let me show you how I do it or just skip to the bottom for the recipe.

Mmm The Finished Product - Shepherd's Pie

First I gather together all the ingredients and prep and measure them out. I open the veggies and reserve their liquids in a measuring cup. I'll need that liquid later. I also roughly chop the tomatoes. If I need herbs, I'll go get them right now. Not shown, flour and thyme

Get your ingredients together and prep before you start cooking.

Then I get to peeling the potatoes. They take the longest so I start them first. They'll happily bubble away while I'm making the meat filling. I roughly cut up the peeled taters and pop them into a pot of boiling water to cook. Test them with a fork after twenty minutes, you want them tender and soft. Drain the water off when done and return the potatoes to their pot for mashing. You can use boxed mashed potatoes if you want, I'll never tell.

You want the water to just cover the potatoes.

The ground beef goes on medium heat in a large ovenproof skillet. A nice thing about this dish is you have only the two pots to wash up afterwards. I salt and pepper the ground beef while it browns and I add the bouillon at this point, too. After it's browned, I put the meat in a bowl and set it aside but reserve the fat in the skillet

Cook the ground beef only until browned.

I use the oil in the pan, left over from the meat, to sauté the onions on a low heat until they are softened and translucent - about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook just until you can smell it. Add the flour and stir into a roux. Cook the roux for at least one minute to cook the flour and then add the reserved liquids from the vegetables just a little at a time, until a nice gravy forms. This takes another 5 minutes or so, stir the whole time. You will probably not use all the reserved liquid - it takes just about a cup.

As soon as the onions are soft and translucent, add the garlic and flour

Once you've got a nice thick gravy, add the thyme, meat and the veggies back to the skillet and stir gently but well until everything is incorporated and looks well mixed. Smooth over the top of the mixture and remove from the heat. Set aside while you prepare the potatoes. Note: Mixing these veggie liquids together gives you a much richer gravy but you could just use water. ;) The veggie liquids have a lot of vitamins and your kids will never notice.

Mix well, smooth over and set aside the meat and veggie mixture.

Return to the potatoes now. They should be tender and ready to mash. Once you drain the water, put the hot potatoes back in the pot and add 4 tablespoons of butter, salt to taste, a good grind of pepper and mash until the texture is what you want. Add the milk/cream and sour cream and stir until potato mixture is blended.

Mash your potatoes in the same pot.

Drop your potato mixture by the spoonful over the top of the meat mixture, being careful not to disturb the meat. Spread the potatoes to the edge of the skillet and seal. Cover the top of the potatoes with the cheese and pop into the oven at 375 for 25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. You want to put a cookie sheet under the skillet to catch any drips.

Ready for the oven.

Once it's bubbly, it's ready to serve. The dish is completely cooked before you put it in the oven.. the baking part is only to melt that lovely cheese. At this point, you could make two pies and freeze one for later! You'd have to increase the cooking time to 30 minutes for a frozen one but that's so much easier than working on that busy evening when you'd really like something tasty but really need a break!

That's a filling helping! Side with a salad and applesauce for a winning dinner!

This looks so much harder then it really is. My co-host remarked that she would have tried to make this sooner if she had known how really easy it is to make. Looks tough, is not! Give this family pleaser a try the next cold or rainy night at your house! It's sure to bring comfort to your home.

Eileen's Shepherd's Pie


2 lbs Ground Beef

1 large Onion

5 cloves Garlic

1/4 cup Flour

1 tbsp. Beef Bouillon

1 12 oz. can Whole Tomatoes, reserve liquid

1 12 oz. can Whole Kernel Corn, reserve liquid

1 12 oz. can French Style Green Beans, reserve liquid

8 sprigs fresh Thyme or 1 tsp dried Thyme

8 to 10 Potatoes

1 cup Sour Cream

2 cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese

1/2 cup Milk or Cream

4 tbsps. Butter

Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

  1. In a large pot, put peeled and cut up potatoes in water, covered by about an inch. Boil until potatoes are fork tender - about 15 to 20 minutes

  2. In a large ovenproof skilled, brown the ground beef until just browned, sprinkle with the bouillon, salt and pepper while it's cooking. Remove meat to a small bowl.

  3. Add chopped onion to oil left in pan and cook until just translucent and softened

  4. Add minced garlic and stir on medium heat just until you can smell the garlic

  5. Add flour and mix until a roux forms. Cook flour and oil together for at least one minute to fully cook the flour.

  6. Add reserved liquids from veggies, a little at a time until you've made a nice gravy - takes about a cup of liquid.

  7. Add meat, thyme and veggies to the gravy and stir well. Smooth over the top and take off the heat. Set aside while you prepare the potatoes.

  8. Drain and mash the potatoes with the butter and milk until the texture is what you want.

  9. Add the sour cream and stir well.

  10. Place potatoes over the meat/veggies mix by spoonfuls, carefully spread the potatoes to the edge of the skillet to seal.

  11. Spread cheese over the top and put in the oven for 25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

  12. Cool for 5 minutes to set the filling and then serve - will serve 8 comfortably and is great as leftovers, too.