A rich, well-seasoned, nicely browned shepherd’s pie is one of the world’s great comfort food dishes. It’s a simple meat stew, spread in a shallow baking dish, covered with mashed potatoes and baked until the whole thing is hot and bubbly, the top golden, crispy around the edges. You begin by making a batch of buttery mashed potatoes and setting those aside, Then you make a simple ground-beef stew with onion, carrot, celery, and sweet frozen peas. Assemble, send to a medium-hot oven for 20 minutes, and dinner is served.
- Yield: 6 servings
- Difficulty: Easy
- Total: 1 hr 30 mins
- Active: 35 mins
- 1 3/4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- Kosher salt
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef, preferably free-range or organic
- 1/2 cup beef or chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup frozen petite peas
- Place the potatoes in a large saucepan of cold salted water, bring to the boil over medium-high heat and boil until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain in a colander, return the potatoes to the saucepan, add 4 tablespoons of the butter and the milk, and mash with a potato masher until smooth and creamy. Season to taste with salt. Cover to keep warm until ready to use.
- To make the filling, in a large frying pan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and a big pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook, stirring, until browned. Pour off any fat, then add the broth, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the peas.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a -quart shallow baking dish. Add the beef mixture in an even layer and then top with the mashed potatoes in an even layer. Use a fork to “ruffle” the top. Dot with the the remaining butter.
- Bake until the filling is bubbling and the top is golden, about 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.