When I received my copy of The Ancestral Table from my friend Russ Crandall, the beautiful photography and rich, hearty meals really enticed me. Shepherd’s Pie has always been a favorite dish of mine, so this recipe was definitely something I was thinking my whole family would love to try. Russ generously let me post his recipe on my site to share with my readers. If you are trying to eat a real food diet, this book is a great resource. The Shepherd’s Pie was seasoned well, the potatoes were fluffy and made a nice crunch when browned. I usually use lamb when making it, but tried it with beef this time and really loved the results. It’s a warm, home-style comfort dish that I’m sure you’ll love!
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Although meat pies have been eaten in the British Isles since the Middle Ages, shepherd’s pie as we know it today coincided with the arrival of the potato in Europe in the 16th century—although potatoes didn’t catch on in Great Britain until the 18th century. Shepherd’s pie appeared shortly thereafter, though under its original name, cottage pie, and made mostly with beef. The name shepherd’s pie followed about 100 years later, along with the idea that it should be made with mutton. Today, shepherd’s pie can be made with beef or lamb, or sometimes both, while cottage pie usually refers only to the beef version of the dish.
Another interesting fact about this dish is that it’s prevalent in many other cultures with some pretty amusing names, like French Canada’s pâté chinois (“Chinese pie”), Russia’s картофельная запеканка (“potato baked pudding”), and Brazil’s escondidinho (“hidden”).
- 2 LBS. RUSSET OR YUKON GOLD POTATOES, PEELED AND CUT INTO 1" CHUNKS
- 3 TBSP. BUTTER, DIVIDED
- ~1/2 CUP HEAVY CREAM
- 1½ TSP. SEA SALT, DIVIDED
- 2 TSP. BLACK PEPPER, DIVIDED
- 1½ LBS. GROUND BEEF, GROUND LAMB, OR A MIXTURE
- 1 SMALL ONION, FINELY CHOPPED
- 1 MEDIUM CARROT, DICED
- 1 CELERY ROOT, PEELED AND DICED
- 1 TBSP. TOMATO PASTE
- 2 CLOVES GARLIC, MINCED
- ½ CUP CHICKEN BROTH (PAGE 42)
- 1 TSP. WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE
- 1 SMALL HANDFUL FRESH THYME, MINCED (ABOUT 1 TSP.)
- 1 SMALL HANDFUL FRESH ROSEMARY, MINCED (ABOUT 1 TSP.)
- ½ CUP FROZEN PEAS
- Place the potatoes in a large stockpot and fill with enough water to cover the potatoes by 1". Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer until fork-tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well, then return to the pot and add 2 Tbsp. of the butter. Mash until smooth and firm, adding cream as needed, up to ½ cup. Season with salt and pepper to taste (about 1 tsp. each), then set aside.
- In a cast-iron skillet, brown the ground meat on medium heat until most of the pink is cooked out, about 6 minutes. Drain and set aside the rendered fat, then set aside the cooked meat. Return 2 Tbsp. of the rendered fat to the pan, as well as the remaining 1 Tbsp. butter, and warm it on medium heat until melted. Add the onion, carrot, and celery root and sauté until softened, about 8 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth, Worcestershire sauce, herbs, and more salt and pepper to taste (about ½ tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper). Simmer until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the ground meat and frozen peas.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Spread the meat mixture evenly in the skillet, then top the meat mixture with globs of mashed potatoes. Spread with a spatula or fork. Bake until the potatoes are browned, about 30 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
The leftovers made for a pretty lunch the next day.