September 6, 2012

A Shortcut for the Shepherd


One of my favorite comfort foods growing up was my mom’s Shepherd’s Pie.  It isn’t the prettiest meal dished onto a plate – but it might be the tastiest (and easiest)!

According to Wikipedia, Shepherd’s Pie is defined as:

Cottage pie or shepherd's pie is a meat pie with a crust of mashed potato. 

The term cottage pie is known to have been in use in 1791, when the potato was being introduced as an edible crop affordable for the poor (cf. "cottage" meaning a modest dwelling for rural workers).

In early cookery books, the dish was a means of using leftover roasted meat of any kind, and the pie dish was lined with mashed potato as well as having a mashed potato crust on top.

The term "shepherd's pie" did not appear until 1877, and since then it has been used synonymously with "cottage pie", regardless of whether the principal ingredient was beef or mutton.  More recently, the term "shepherd's pie" has been used when the meat is lamb, the theory being that shepherds are concerned with sheep and not cattle.  This may, however, be an example of folk etymology.

Reading this made me laugh…just ask my Nana about eating mutton.  Not good, she gags every time she hears the word.

Anyway, Shepherd’s Pie is now one of Mike’s favorites as well and I fix it often for our weeknight menu.  Although one of the star ingredients is mashed potatoes, I don’t always have time to whip up a batch of homemade; so I found the next best thing:


Can you say shortcut?! 

These Simply (mashed) Potatoes are made from real potatoes and taste very yummy.  I am a mashed potato snob (I despise instant potatoes) and these passed my taste test with flying colors!  They are located in the meat section with the other premade side dishes and are a perfect addition for weeknight meals.

Now onto the “pie”.  The following recipe is the one my mom always used to make, however the beauty of this type of casserole is that you can add any veggies you want.  I’ve added roasted carrots and corn to my mixture before and it was delicious as well.  Play around, get creative and have fun!


Shepherd’s Pie

Print this recipe!

1-1 1/2 lb. lean ground beef (I use ground sirloin)

1 small onion

2 cans French Cut green beans

1-2 cans reduced fat Cream of Mushroom Soup

1-2 C shredded Cheddar Cheese

1-2 container(s) mashed potatoes


(these measurements are written loosely for personal preference reasons – add as much or as little of the layers as you wish!)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Chop onion and sauté with ground beef until no longer pink.  Drain.

Drain beans and place into a medium bowl.  Add cream of mushroom soup and meat/onion mixture.  Combine.






Layer the meat mixture on the bottom of a baking dish, followed by a layer of cheese topped with the final layer or the “crust” of mashed potatoes.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until lightly browned and bubbling.




This is a great recipe for church suppers, new moms, or family dinners.  I guarantee you won’t take any home with you!

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