Almost Shepherd’s Pie

One of my Irish ancestors came to America in the 1800s. Records show he lived in a poor house before gaining passage here. It was some years before the potato famine that started a larger Irish migration, so I sometimes wonder if he dined upon a Shepherd’s Pie in his time, on either side of the Atlantic. I also wonder what he might think about my Almost Shepherd’s Pie.

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Just a Little Irish

If you’ve ever had authentic Shepherd’s pie, my version is probably about as Irish as I am. But it gets the job done. It’s a nice meat and vegetable potato-topped pie that’s a tasty one-dish meal. I was inspired to create it after enjoying the real deal at an Irish pub in Florida. I can’t remember what that version tasted like now, because my “almost” version is decades old now …  but I remember how much I wanted to create something as close as possible at home.

What I Love About Almost Shepherd’s Pie

I especially love this pie on cooler fall evenings and in early winter, when the cold weather has me craving warmth. It’s stick-to-your-ribs satisfying and filling, and it has my favorite comfort food on top: mashed potatoes. It’s a great meal to prepare for a meal train and it’s family friendly. You can build it ahead and cook later or do it all the same day. 

The recipe is flexible. Try different vegetables. (I always include peas and carrots but often change the rest up.) For a vegetarian version you can substitute the beef with a plant-based protein. Substitute non-dairy in your mashed potatoes and use vegan cheese for a vegan version. Keep your ingredients low sodium for a lower sodium version. However you eat it, enjoy!

“Because even among contrarians, I’m a contrarian. But all of this is just words of bronze, third place rhetoric. What do I really mean when I say we want to shock society into awareness? Do we mean we want more originality and individuality? Less TV, more reading, writing, actual thinking? Less sheep, more shepherd pie? Yes, yes, and a little more pie, please. Oh, and some more sweet tea, too.”

— Jarod Kintz
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Almost Shepherd’s Pie

Not quite authentic, Almost Shepherd's pie is nonetheless delicious. It's great meal for families or for a meal train.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Fusion, Irish
Keyword gluten free, low sodium option, mashed potatoes, non-vegetarian option, Shepherd’s Pie, vegan option, vegetables
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 8 people
Author Lisa Kamolnick

Ingredients

Bottom layer:

  • 1 ½ lb ground beef
  • 2 C fresh or frozen peas and carrots
  • 1 small onion finely diced
  • 2 medium garlic cloves minced
  • 1 TBSP Worcestershire
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp rosemary
  • 2 tsp parsley
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 TBSP paprika
  • 3 oz tomato paste

Top layer:

  • 4 C mashed potatoes

Topping:

  • 2 C shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 TBSP paprika

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • In large skillet, combine ground beef, salt and pepper and cook on medium until done. Drain and set aside.
  • Add olive oil to skillet, add thyme, rosemary, and parsley. Add onion and garlic and sauté until onion becomes translucent.
  • Add beef back into skillet. Add Worcestershire and stir mixture well, bringing to heat.
  • Add frozen vegetables and stir well. If using frozen vegetables, allow to thaw in meat mix before moving to next step.
  • Add tomato paste and paprika and stir well. Cook until flavors marry and remove into 9 x 13 casserole dish. Spread evenly in the dish.
  • Cook mashed potatoes and spread evenly on top of the meat and vegetable layer. Tip: Drop large spoonfuls all over top then spread with spatula.
  • Sprinkle cheddar cheese across top of dish and then sprinkle paprika.
  • Cook for about 20 to 30 minutes to heat through and serve warm. You may wish to cover the dish with foil for the first 20 minutes then remove foil for 5 to 10 minutes more to avoid burning the cheese and potato topping.

Notes

Serving Suggestions
Shepherd’s pie makes an excellent one-dish meal. 
Tips
For a vegetarian version, substitute ground beef with a plant-based protein of similar texture. Substitute non-dairy milk for mashed potatoes (avoid vanilla flavored!) and use vegan cheese for a vegan version. To reduce sodium, avoid canned veggies and beans and use lower sodium products where possible.