the meat & potatoes…

…of dinner tonight is a comforting bake suited for the sheepish!  I have been wanting to make my Southern variation of Shepherd’s Pie for months now. A little drizzly out and the fact that I’m hungry, was all the convincing needed to get this in the oven. Traditional Irish and English Shepherd’s Pie (or Cottage Pie) is a base of ground mutton (lamb) or beef with vegetables in a tomato based sauce, topped with mashed potatoes- baked casserole-style. It’s delicious. I however make mine a little upside down, with a Paula Deen inspired Southern twist! No, I don’t just top it with a layer of butter, I know what you’re thinking! I switch the mashed potato layer to the bottom, meat & veggie mix in the middle, and top with a layer of corn bread, which bakes with a perfect homestyle crust. I have decided to take this variation even one step further, so we’re going to upgrade our mashed potatoes into a cheesy rosemary smash. Cheese + beef  = good. 

Also, I opt for a beef gravy-based sauce over the commonly used tomato. Since this meat mix will now be on top of the mashed taters, what could be better than a little brown gravy? Many recipes out there call for a bag of diced frozen veggies including peas, carrots, corn & onion. I am not a huge fan, as it has little flavor and a watery texture in my opinion, though it’s convenient! I still use the frozen peas, but I use the spring baby variety and thaw them before using. I use fresh diced carrot, onion and garlic, which we sauté on the stove and cook with the ground beef. I skip corn kernels since we’re topping with corn bread mix. The mashed potatoes are pretty standard, boil, drain, mash with butter and half-and-half in our case. Then we’ll add sharp shredded cheese & fresh chopped rosemary for a savory twist. Last a simple box corn muffin mix is all you need to top this off. It’s a one dish supper, and it’s a good one for a cool night like this.

Let’s have some pie for dinner, what say you?

5 from 1 reviews
Southern Shepherd's Pie
Cozy-up with this deliciously hearty Shepherd's pie with a Southern twist! We're putting the potatoes on the bottom and making them cheesy + delicious! Then we'll add our meat & veggie layer full of gravy & rich flavor. We're going to top this one off with a cornbread crust, yum!
Serves: 8 servings
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
What to get:
  • ~1.5 lbs ground beef (I used 90/10%, my package was 1.66 lbs)
  • ¾ sweet yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled & chopped finely
  • 1.5 cups frozen baby peas, defrosted somewhat
  • ¾ cup beef broth (low sodium)
  • ¾ cup homestyle beef gravy (jar)
  • 2 T Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp coarse ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 T fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
  • 1 box regular corn muffin mix (will also need milk & egg as to package directions)
  • 2 T oil for sautéing onion
  • ¼ cup white wine or remaining beef broth
  • 2 T flour
For the Cheese & Rosemary Mashed Potatoes:
  • 3 large russet potatoes
  • ¼ cup half-&-half (or whipping cream/milk)
  • 3 T butter
  • 1.5 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 T fresh rosemary leaves, chopped well
  • S&P to taste
What to do:
Make Meat Mixture:
  1. In mixing bowl add ground beef, dried thyme, rosemary, salt & pepper & Worcestershire, mixing well.
  2. In large skillet add the 2T EVOO and sauté chopped onion & carrot & cook down till tender, I add some white wine and broth as necessary to cook them down (5-7 minutes).
  3. Add the chopped garlic & continue to sauté.
  4. Add meat mixture to skillet incorporating into veggies & cooking till no longer pink, stirring often.
  5. When beef is no longer pink and juices are mostly evaporated, add 2 T flour and combine.
  6. Slowly add the beef broth & gravy bringing mix to a low boil, then reduce.
  7. Cook on low stirring occasionally until thickened (several minutes).
  8. Add the defrosted peas & combine.
  9. Remove mix from heat & set aside.
Make Mashed Potatoes:
  1. In a large pot on the stove, bring a salted pot of water to a boil.
  2. Peel potatoes, slice thinly, then cut slices into halves, add to boiling water.
  3. Boil potatoes till very tender, drain and return to pot on very low heat, or to bowl of an electric mixer.
  4. To hot & drained potatoes, add the shredded cheese, butter, half-&-half, S&P and combine well.
  5. Use a hand-held potato masher or electric mixer to mash potatoes.
Make Shepherd's Pie:
  1. Make corn muffin mix according to package directions (or make regular corn bread mix but omit the sugar).
  2. In a greased casserole dish, spread a thick layer (about 2-3 inches of mashed potatoes, then thick layer of meat mixture, then carefully spread prepared, wet corn muffin mix on very top of pie.
  3. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, watch for top to be browning, but don't let burn (check with toothpick)!
  4. Cool on wire rack for about 20 minutes, then cut & serve!
  5. Store leftovers in airtight tupperware, and reheat in 400 degree oven.
The mashed potatoes get jazzed up with some sharp cheddar cheese & rosemary, you can add more cheese as you prefer. Mine was not overly cheesy. Also, the box corn muffin mix on top is slightly sweet because it is pre mixed and contains sugar. i think it works here, but I also prefer just making corn bread mix using Alber's cornmeal (or generic corn meal with directions on box) BUT omitting the added sugar. This bakes up beautifully and is easy to make in a cast iron skillet or a Pyrex casserole dish!
Serving size: 1 slice

You can toss the plates with compartments in the trash, cause we’re taking our protein, veggie and starch, and cramming them all into one satisfying bite!

In the spirit of sheep, I couldn’t resist including this scene from the Adam Sandler/Nick Swarsdon movie, Just Go With It. It’s completely ridiculous, but I’m putting it anyhow!!! 

You don’t have to be in a cottage, herding, keeping, or even shipping sheep to enjoy this. You do however need to be very hungry… Enjoy!

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Thank you for visiting the dinnervine! In the words of Julia Child, "People who love to eat, are always the best people," and I couldn't agree more. I hope you enjoy these dishes as much as I did making them. Here's to creating new recipes and memories with friends & family, cheers! 

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