Sheepherder’s Pie is a one of those welcome entrees that appear regularly on family dinner tables all over Great Britain. As it does, it often involves a special family recipe and process. That is certainly true in the case of our proven winner offered here. That said we’d like to suggest that if you have your favorite meat filling recipe, by all means, use it. Our focus in this segment is more on process than on recipes. It matters not whether your choice of ingredient for your “filling” is ground beef, chicken, turkey/a combination thereof or your favorite vegan meat substitute mix. It isn’t whether or not you include the sausage. By slathering the partially baked and browned filling with delectably fluffy mashed potatoes laced with your favorite cheese (or the sharp cheddar we call for in our recipe), and baking it in a hot oven until all is a lightly browned scrumptious feast for eyes and palate, a simple Tuesday night dinner becomes regal fare for any St. Patrick’s Day feast or a company dinner any day of the year.
- 20 oz. ground meat(s) beef, chicken, or turkey (sausage, optional)
- 1+ c. aromatics (medium onion, finely chopped + 1/2 c. diced celery , finely chopped peppers: ½ c. Sweet + 2 tbsp. Jalapeno peppers)
- 1 c. cracker crumbs (butter, soda, or other savory cracker crumbs)
- 1 egg, beaten with 2 tbsp. oil (olive, peanut, canola, etc.)
- 1/2 c. half & half or whole milk
- 1/4 cup tomato paste or catsup
- 2 tbsp mustard (use your favorite. I use a brown deli mustard)
- 2 tbsp. salt
- 1 tsp. each: freshly ground black pepper, sage, thyme, granulated garlic
- 1 tbsp. honey (or sweeteners of choice)
- 4 oz. Irish Ale (substitute 1/2 cup red wine or 2tbsp red wine vinegar)
- Toss the above ingredients in a large mixing bowl, add seasonings and mix together well.
- Pat into a deep sided, lightly oiled baking dish and bake in 375° oven for 20 minutes
- Remove from oven and increase oven heat to 425°
- Spread Mashed Potatoes (recipe follows) over the top (be generous) and return to the hotter oven for 35 minutes (until internal temperature of meat filling reaches 175° F.) and potatoes are browned and beautiful.
Mashed Potato “Frosting”
2 qt. Sauce Pan
- 3 or 4 Medium Russet Potatoes (Scrub, peel and cut into 1” pieces)
- Water to cover potatoes seasoned with 3 tsp. salt
- 1½ tsp. salt
- 1 tsp each white pepper, granulated garlic (or one smashed clove)
- Pinch of cayenne pepper (the size of pinch is up to you).
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- ½ cup chicken stock,
- 2 Tbsp. heavy cream, and
- 1 ounce (grated) of your favorite sharp cheddar + extra for garnish.
Cook potatoes over medium heat until fork-tender. Drain, reserving ½ cup of cooking water. Add salt, pepper, garlic, cayenne, butter and chicken stock. Mash and stir with fork to “whip” to a smooth consistency, adding heavy cream last. If mashed potatoes are not spreadable consistency, add reserved water a tbsp. at a time, stirring with each addition until spreadable.
“Frost” meat pie filling with Cheesy Mashed Potatoes and brush the potato “frosting” with 2 tbsp. melted butter, sprinkle with a garnish of grated cheese and return to hot oven an additional 35 minutes (175°F) and potato crust is golden.
Remove dish from oven and serve with green peas and glazed carrots and Irish Soda Bread. Enjoy with loved ones and graciously accept the compliments due you.