Search the Happy Baker blog:

Friday, February 4, 2011

Not a Shepherd's Pie

I ran across this quote today regarding Shepherd's Pie.

"Let us be clear and let's get it right. Shepherds pie is made with lamb. Cottage pie is made with beef. Never in the history of the British isles has cheese ever come close to either. If you see cheese anywhere near a recipe for either, put it down to the USA's obsession to add cheese to anything that moves - it doesn't generally belong with meat unless you desire lead in your stomach."

I found this quote hilarious from more than the kosher perspective. [For those unaware, it is not kosher to mix meat and dairy]
Partly because, yes, we Americans just love to smother everything in cheese. But also because it's true--nobody seems to know exactly what a true Shepherd's Pie really is.

Shepherds Pie has become a generic term in the U.S. that basically means any kind of meat and potato casserole. I've seen kidney and liver stew covered in whipped potatoes. I've seen hamburger topped in hashbrowns.

So. For reasons of authenticity, I will not be calling this dish a Shepherd's Pie. Instead, it is a Cottage Pie.

You're welcome, England.

That's as far as authenticity goes, though. I like to pack mine with veggies, which isn't so traditional, but it makes for a much more colorful, nutrient-rich meal. Huzzah.

So what's in it?

If you're not kosher, you can always use regular ground beef.
To make meal vegetarian, you can use a meatless substitute like Morningstar Grillers Crumbles.
To make meal OUP or vegan, you can use crumbled, cooked Gardenburgers.

1 lb lean kosher ground beef
2 small-medium shallots, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil or butter
Small handful finely diced red bell pepper, fresh or dried
2 tsp chili powder
3 medium carrots, chopped
1 cup snow peas, in pod
1 cup black beans, drained
1/2 cup edamame, shelled
1 envelope onion soup mix
1 tsp cinnamon (I know it sounds weird. But it'll add tremendous depth to your flavor)
1 Tbsp basil
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup beef broth (K/V Sub: Veggie broth)
1/4 cup tomato sauce

4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped
1/4 cup butter, softened (K/V Sub: Vegetable margarine)
3/4 cup milk (K/V Sub: Unsweetened soy milk)
2-3 green onions or scallions, chopped
Garlic juice to taste
Seasoning to taste. (I used Penzey's FoxPoint, kosher salt, black pepper)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

The Meatalicious Filling!

Place a large, wide skillet over medium heat.
Into it, drizzle your olive oil and melt the pat of butter. Add the chopped shallots. (You'll notice I almost always use shallots in my recipe instead of onions. That's because shallots have an amazing flavor combination that tastes like a hybrid between onions and garlic. It's multidimensional, and I just prefer them. Feel free to use onions if you'd rather.)

When shallots are translucent, add your diced red pepper and chili powder. Stir together to blend. Add chopped carrots and onion soup mix.
(This is NOT a good time to try to take close up photos on the Macro setting. You just may burn everything and have to start all over. *ahem* Not that I'd know...)

Crumble in ground beef and saute for a few minutes. Add your broth and simmer everything together, breaking up ground beef crumbles with a spatula and turning the mixture so everything browns evenly. You can add your edamame and black beans at this point, but wait on the snap peas. If you cook them too long, they'll lose their bright green beautifulish..isness...ack! They'll lose their color!

Once the beef is well browned and everything smells fabulous, hold on to your socks and add the cinnamon, mixed herbs, and parsley.

Kapow! Doesn't that cinnamon just make you tingle? Alrighty then. Then this whole fragrant concoction simmer together for a bit, and stir in your tomato sauce. You can turn off the heat, cover, and let everything just develop while you work on the potatoes. Add your snap peas if you haven't yet.

(I had to refrain from making a Lord of the Rings reference here... "Boil em, mash em, stick em in a stew..." Oy, I couldn't resist!)

I hate peeling and chopping potatoes. It's the most tedious kitchen duty in the world, next to peeling apples. Or peeling anything, for that matter. So I don't peel. In fact, I didn't even use Yukon Golds here because that would be too much work, but I listed them as ingredients, because you can find them everywhere.

I used tiny little Danish Gold heirloom potatoes from Trader Joe's. This way, I can just quarter them quickly and go.


So. Chop your potatoes. If you like super smooth, creamy mashers, you can even peel them if you want. (But that won't be happening in MY kitchen!)

Once chopped, throw them in a big pot of water and bring to a rapid boil. You can salt the water if you care to, but I prefer to season my potatoes later, and they'll soak up that salt. Boil your taters for about 15 minutes, or until soft. When potatoes are thoroughly softened and fork-tender, drain them and return to the pot.

Add your butter, milk, and green onions. Hand-mash with a masher if you like them thick and chunky. If you prefer a creamier, "whipped" consistency, you can use a ricer, food processor, or immersion blender. I used a fork. I like my 'taters thick and chunky.
(Again, trying not to bust out a chorus of Sir Mixalot...)


Taste your mashers and add seasoning and garlic juice until it makes your mouth happy. Now, what is this crazy "garlic juice" I keep referring to? You know that jar of minced garlic we all have in our fridges? "Garlic juice" is just quite literally the juice that collects on top of the mince. If you just use the juice, you get all the delicious flavor, and it blends together smoothly without having bits of it in your dish if you don't want it.


Transfer your meat mixture to a casserole or baking dish and spread evenly.
The potatoes are tricky because you want them on TOP of the meat, not mixed through, so you have to be gentle.


Baked in preheated oven about 25 minutes until potatoes are golden and meat mixture is bubbly. Remove from oven and garnish as desired. I used sour cream and more scallions (which are not shown because I'll have to reheat this before we eat tonight.)

Enjoy, and happy eating!

Oh, and stay tuned tomorrow! We'll be making kosher no-crab rangoon and twice baked stuffed potato skins! Just in time for the Superbowl! See you there!


  1. Gosh! I should not read your blog at nearly midnight! I am hungry now! Looks wonderful!

  2. Aw, thanks! And thank you for your comment! :)

    I'm hungry too. Seriously considering making tomorrow "crab" rangoons tonight so I can have a nibble before bed. ;)


Send me a comment! I love to hear what you have to say!