Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd's Pie via Byrd BitesYears ago, actor Sean Astin was interviewed about his role as Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings. I distinctly remember him commenting that the way he was able to gain weight for the role was to eat large amounts of Shepherd’s Pie — and being as I’d never heard of the dish, I thought it was just a dessert. Oh, how wrong I was.

With that being said, this dish ain’t going to get you ready for that teeny bikini. But that will all be moot when you taste the creamy potatoes, the flavorful broth and the chunks of tender beef and carrots. I’m not going to lie — this recipe is a labor of love. It’s not something you throw together in 10 minutes. But I also can assure you that it’s good enough that you’ll forget the stacks of dirty dishes (or hours on the elliptical you’ll have to do the next day) after the first bite.

This recipe has been adapted from the blog Laura’s Sweet Spot.


    • 1 lb. ground chuck
    • 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp water
    • salt and pepper
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 4-5 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
    • 4-6 Tbsp butter, softened
    • 1/2 cup milk (I use 2%)
    • 1 egg yolk
    • 5 green onions, thinly sliced
    • 1 Tbsp olive oil
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 4 ounces Baby Bella mushrooms, washed and chopped
    • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
    • 1 tsp garlic powder (or to taste)
    • 2 Tbsp beer (I use Yuengling)
    • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
    • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 tsp thyme
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
    • 2 tsp cornstarch
  1. Mix the ground beef with 2 tablespoons of water, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in a bowl. Set aside. Heat oven to 350F.
  2. Put the potatoes in a saucepan, and add enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Simmer until the potatoes are soft. Drain the potatoes well and return to the saucepan. Blend the potatoes with a mixer, and stir in the butter. Whisk together the milk and egg yolk with a fork in a small bowl, and mix into the potatoes with the green onion, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, and add the onions, mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Cook until the vegetables are softened. Stir in the tomato paste and garlic powder, and cook for about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the beer and cook until evaporated. Stir in the flour, and then add the broth, Worcestershire, thyme, bay leaf and carrots. Bring the mixture to a boil, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the beef, and separate into small chunks with a spatula. Bring the beef and broth mixture to simmer, and cover and cook until the beef is cooked through.
  5. While the beef is cooking, combine the cornstarch and remaining 2 teaspoons of water together in bowl. Once the beef has cooked, add the cornstarch mixture to the beef mixture and simmer for 30 seconds. Remove the bay leaf.
  6. Pour the beef mixture into a baking dish (a 9 x 13 would work, although I used one that was a little smaller). Smooth the mashed potatoes over the mixture, and bake until the mashed potatoes are beginning to turn golden (about 25 minutes – but keep an eye on it).

Like he is with most things, my hubby is super picky about his Shepherd’s Pie — but he loved this recipe. Unfortunately, I loved it as well, and I have an appointment with a Denise Austin DVD today to try to love it a little less!


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