Shepherd’s pie is arguably one of the most popular dishes, especially for the working class. In this article, you will learn all the secrets for a green-hand to cook this dish perfectly like the required internal temperature of a shepherd’s pie. Before we start, let me introduce what is Shepherd’s pie in detail.
What is Shepherd’s Pie?
It is a classic meat and potatoes dish; literally, in this case, as it is essentially a meat filling covered by a layer of mashed potatoes. The dish is popular because it is simple to make, is fulfilling, and if prepared correctly can be reasonably healthy. The biggest question is what the perfect time and temp for shepherd’s pie should be for the meal. While this can vary a little, in general, the best serving temp is around 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
At its simplest, the casserole is some sort of meat sauce covered with mashed potatoes. While there are not that many variations on the mashed potatoes part, although you could add some spices and cheese to them, the meat sauce allows for a wide variety of options. At the very least, you can add almost any vegetable into the mix and it usually works. You can also use a tomato-based sauce or use standard meat gravy. The basic recipe is very forgiving of variants and it is even encouraged.
There are even some more exotic variations. While the default is ground beef, you can substitute any ground meat, from turkey to lamb, as desired. You can use a chili mixture in place of the standard meat sauce. While the most basic recipe calls for corn and green beans, you can use virtually any vegetables with the meat sauce. There is even an option for the top; you can use a more doughy top instead of the potatoes. In short, it is something with which you can have some serious fun and can be used as the basis of a wide variety of options.
How to Make Shepherd’s Pie?
Making shepherd’s pie is simple. The ingredients you will use are:
- 1 Tablespoon Cooking Oil
- A large onion, chopped
- 2-3 medium carrots
- One pound Ground Beef
- 2 tablespoons Tomato Puree
- Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 cups Beef Stock
- Two pounds Russet Potatoes
- 1/3 cup Butter
- 3 tablespoons Milk
First, start by chopping a large onion and 2-3 medium carrots. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a medium sauce pan and soften them for a few minutes. Turn up the heat to medium and then add a pound of ground beef to the recipe; brown the meat and drain any excess fat. To this add two tablespoons of tomato puree and splash of Worcestershire sauce. Cook all of this together for a few minutes. Pour in two cups of beef stock, bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for forty minutes. Uncover after twenty minutes.
While that cooks, make the mashed potatoes. Take the two pounds of potatoes and cut them into chunks; you can peel or not depending on your taste. Boil these for 10-15 minutes until tender. Then drain out the water and mash with the milk and butter.
Once it is done cooking, put the meat mixture into an 11-inch by 17-inch baking dish, cover completely with mashed potatoes, and ruffle a bit with a fork. If you want to freeze it, let it chill and it should be good for up to a month. When you are ready, take it out, and cook it for an hour and twenty minutes at 350 degrees. If you are cooking it directly, put it into an oven for 25 minutes at 375, or until the top begins to brown and you can see the mixture bubbling around the edges. Take it about and let it stand for five minutes before serving.
Now, if you want to try something a little different and do not mind putting in a little more effort:
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced small
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves
- 1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen English peas
Heat the canola oil in a 12-inch saute pan over medium-high heat. Once you see the oil shimmering, throw in the carrots and onions and allow them to brown just a little, or about 3-4 minutes. Stir in garlic, then add in the lamb, salt and pepper; brown thoroughly for about 3 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour, then toss to coat, and cook for another minute. Add in the remaining ingredients except for the corn and peas. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and allow the mixture to simmer for 10-12 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly.
Turn off the heat and add the corn and peas to the lamb mixture. Just as before, spread evenly over an 11-inch by 17-inch baking dish and then top with the mashed potatoes. Make sure that you create a seal with the mashed potatoes and edge of the dish. Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper, put that into the middle rack of the over, and then the dish on top of that. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to brown. Place on a cooling rack for 15 minutes before serving.
Note that these are just two different variations. The base recipe is very forgiving of any variations that you should want to try. You can even remove the mashed potatoes and replace them with a dough top should you wish. Ultimately, have some fun and play around with the recipe until you find one that you like, and then do not stop there.
Temperature Tips for Making Shepherd’s Pie
When it comes to shepherd’s pie, the temperature is key. When cooking, the best time and temperature for shepherd’s pie is 375-400 degrees for about half an hour; usually just enough time for the potatoes to brown a little. For those looking for a little more precision, you can check the inside temperature using something like a ThermPro Meat Thermometer; the ideal temperature is 165 degrees. If you are curious as to what temp to cook shepherd’s pie, go with your recipe’s directions; sometimes the temperature may change depending on the ingredients used.
It should be noted that some recipes will cause you to question what to temp to cook shepherd’s pie; this is normal. In general, more liquid ingredients should decrease the temperature a little bit as should ingredients that require a little extra cooking. Conversely, more solid ingredients or ingredients that require less oven time will increase the temperature. Again, if there are any questions as to what temp for shepherd’s pie, it is best to consult the recipe in question.
When it comes to reheating the casserole, the oven temp for shepherd’s pie is just 350 degrees. If you are cooking from a frozen state, it can take an hour; again, using the ThermoPro Meat Thermometer, check the inside temperature to ensure that it is about 165 degrees.
There should be no question what temp for shepherd’s pie is best, as at that point the pie should be hot enough to be safe to eat and cool enough to actually eat. While you may have to tweak the oven temp for shepherd’s pie based on your oven’s temperature, this should be a minor problem.
What to Serve with Shepherd’s Pie?
Generally, shepherd’s pie is a complete meal in and of itself. There is a protein in the meat sauce, the mashed potatoes provide the starch, and there are vegetables included in most recipes; this makes it an ideal meal all by itself. However, should you wish to include something alongside the casserole, there are some intriguing options. An obvious option is some sort of dark brown gravy, which adds some needed moisture to the potatoes. Salad is not a bad idea, especially something like an apple salad although a green salad works. Vegetables work as well, especially green beans, mushy peas, and most roots, such as parsnips, carrots, and even turnips.
Shepherd’s pie is an excellent meal, It does not take much to prepare it and it hits almost every need in a meal: It has meat, carbs, and comes with a variety of different nutrients. It is great for anyone in need of some extra energy, especially growing kids. Just remember to check the temperature before serving; it is advised that you purchase a ThermPro meat thermometer to make sure that the meal is at 165 degrees. It makes for a great meal, and there are a lot of options to explore, so have some fun cooking it!