shepherd's pie

Very Scary Shepherd’s Pie

I absolutely love shepherd’s pie. It is the perfect comfort food to share on a cold October evening. And it does feel so much chillier walking around Menlo Park, doesn’t it? It feels like just yesterday, I was visiting the weekend Farmers’ Market and shedding layers to stay cool… today I had to bundle up tight. But really, that’s what I truly enjoy about the Fall season: the feeling of change, the urge to nurture and keep warm. It’s the best time of year to use your cozy cast iron cookware and invite friends and family over for some delicious shepherds pie… with a holiday twist.

My favorite thing about this particular shepherd’s pie recipe is that you can really get creative, make it your own, and even get the kids involved. Who doesn’t love making mashed potato monsters with green pea eyes? You can try using red bell peppers too, or black olives… have fun with this one, and your children will have a wonderful memory of making (and enjoying) a delicious holiday meal.

Did I mention that this is probably the easiest Shepherd’s Pie holiday recipe I ever made? And so delicious, too.


  • 2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ lbs of lean ground beef, turkey or lamb
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp minced fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup frozen peas, 12 reserved for ghost eyes


  1. In large saucepan, cover potatoes with water. Add 1 tablespoon salt, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until tender, approximately 8-10 minutes. Drain potatoes and return to saucepan. Mash until smooth. (I like using a ricer to eliminate any lumps).  Whisk milk and egg together, then stir into potatoes along with butter, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper; cover and set aside.
  2. Heat an ovenproof (my choice, cast-iron) over medium heat for 3 minutes. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in skillet. Add carrots, onion and ¾ teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add meat of choice, breaking it with spoon, until no longer pink, 8-10 minutes.
  3. Stir in tomato paste, garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, approximately a minute. Slowly stir in broth and Worcestershire, scraping up any browned bits. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat, stir in peas (reserve eyes!) and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Transfer potato mixture to a 1-gallon zipper-lock bag. Snip off 1 corner to create a 1-inch opening. Pipe mixture into ghost-like shapes. Add 2 of the reserved peas to each ghost to resemble eyes.
  5. Serve immediately.

4-6 servings

 shepherd's pie


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