Somewhat Fancy Shepherd’s Pie

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St. Patrick’s Day is coming up and we’ve got a treat for you from Sheri Castle, award-winning local cookbook author. When Sheri stopped by the Firsthand Foods’ warehouse a few months ago, we loaded her up with pasture-raised meat samples. Little did we know that she would gift us this timely and delicious recipe for Shepherd’s Pie, a traditional Irish dish made with either ground beef or lamb and featuring a mashed potato crust.


Mashed Potato and Cheddar Topping

  • 1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, warmed
  • 3/4 cup freshly shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound lean Firsthand Foods ground beef or lamb
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup beef stock
  • 1 cup frozen baby green peas and diced carrots, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon A-1 steak sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Makes one 9 1/2-inch pie


For the topping: Simmer the potatoes in a large pot of generously salted water over medium-high heat for 20 minutes or until just tender; do not let the potatoes break apart or get waterlogged. Drain well in a colander then return to the pot and let stand 5 minutes or until the potatoes steam dry and the edges look chalky. Pass the warm potatoes through a food mill or ricer into a large bowl. (Alternatively, mash the potatoes as smooth as possible with a potato masher or large spoon. Do not process, blend, or beat the potatoes, as this will cause them to become gluey.)

Stir the cream cheese, butter, milk, and egg yolk into the warm potatoes. Stir in 1/4 cup of the Cheddar. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

For the filling: Heat the oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meat and cook, stirring to crumble, for about 5 minutes or until no longer pink. Transfer the meat to a colander to drain, then set aside.

Melt the butter in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the onion and a big pinch of salt. Cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic. Return the meat to the pan and increase the heat to high; when the onion mixture begins to sizzle, quickly stir in the tomato paste. Cook 30 seconds, stirring continuously.

Reduce the heat to medium-high. Sprinkle the flour over the onion mixture and stir to coat. Cook 2 minutes, stirring continuously.

Add the red wine and Worcestershire and stir to loosen the glaze on the bottom of the pot.
Stirring continuously, add the beef stock in a slow, steady stream. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook 3 minutes or until thickened, gently stirring continuously.

Stir in the peas and carrots. Simmer 10 minutes. Stir in the A-1 and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a lightly greased 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie plate.

Pipe or spoon the mashed potato topping over the filling and rough up the top a bit with a fork. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Bake in the upper third of the oven for 30 minutes or until browned in spots on top.

©2018 Sheri Castle. Excerpted from Sugar, Butter, Flour: The Waitress Pie Book with the express written permission of the author.