Many of the steps are outlined in the video, below. Note, when you play the video Youtube may add cookies to your browser.
OK, full disclosure, this is not really Shepherd’s Pie. It it isn’t ground lamb and boiled potatoes. It is similar to shepherd’s pie because it is a meat stew layer topped with a potato coating. Shepherd’s Pie only tastes better than this recipe if you are eating it in a pub in Galway. Otherwise, make this recipe.
Makes about 3 quarts (12 cups) stew and 7 cups potatoes or 9 2-cup servings.
I use large baking potatoes to make the mashed potatoes. Baking potatoes contain more starch than smaller potatoes. I bake the potatoes in the oven so they will be drier than boiled potatoes. This means the potatotes will absorb more of the egg, butter, sour cream, cheese and other ingredients we choose to add. It should also make them easier to brown when we use them as a crust.
I brown the meat before I cut it up. It is quicker and produces less smoke and grease splatter. It leaves more moisture in the meat and still provides most of the flavor that you get from browning cubes. I haven’t tried the weed burner but that might be a good option for browning the meat.
INGREDIENTS – STEW:
- 3 pounds of beef chuck roast. Don’t cut into cubes until after browning.
- Salt and Pepper (2 Tablespoons salt added to meat and 1.5 tsp pepper added when carrots are added)
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter.
- 2 medium onions (16 oz.), diced.
- 3 garlic cloves, minced (or 1.5 teaspoons prepared, minced)
- 5 Tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 cup of red wine
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 lb of carrots (half a bag) peeled and sliced 1/4″ thick
- 1 cup of frozen peas
- 1/4 cup of fresh parsley leaves or 1 Tbsp of dried parsley
INGREDIENTS – TOPPING
- 3.5 lbs baking potatoes
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese (3 oz. by weight)
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
INSTRUCTIONS – STEW:
- Lower the oven rack so the pot will fit into the middle of the oven
- Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees
- Wash the beef and remove any excess water with paper towels (dry meat browns better)
- Heat 2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat until the water boils out and it stops sputtering (or start with clarified butter). Increase the heat to medium-high. The butter should be very hot but not smoking.
- Put the meat into the hot oil and brown it on two sides.
- Move the browned meat onto a sheet to cool.
- Reduce the heat to medium.
- Add another 1 Tbsp of butter and the chopped onions.
- Cook 4 – 5 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds to 1 minute (don’t cook longer because the garlic will burn).
- Stir in 3 Tablespoons of flour and cook for 1 or 2 minutes until the flour is absorbed and starts to brown. It will stick to the bottom of the pan but that is OK, adding the wine will de-glaze the pan.
- Add the wine and stir until the bottom of the pan is clean again. The liquid will thicken.
- Slowly add the chicken broth so you don’t cool the mixture. Stir together and scrape any residual mixture off the sides.
- Cut the meat into 3/4″ cubes.
- Add the bay leaves, thyme, salt and the meat into the pot and heat until bubbling.
- Cover the pot but place a spoon between the lid and the pot to create a small gap for steam to escape (this will help the meat brown further) and place it in the oven.
- Cook for 1 hour with the lid propped open.
- While the stew is cooking, chop the carrots and place them in a bowl. Cover them with cold water to keep them from turning brown.
- In a small (3.5 qt.) saucepan, make a gravy by browning 4 Tablespoons of flour and a pinch of salt in 2 Tablespoon of butter and stirring in 16 ounces of beef broth and bringing to a boil stirring constantly to thicken.
- Remove the gravy from the heat and set aside.
- After 1 hour, remove the pot from the oven, remove the spoon and add the carrots pepper and the gravy (do not add the peas and parsley).
- Place the frozen peas into a container to allow them to thaw while the stew continues to cook.
- Cook for another 1 hours with the lid down.
- Remove from oven and bring to boil on stove top. whisk in 6 or 7 Tablespoons of flour to thicken.
- Stir in the peas and parsley.
INSTRUCTIONS – TOPPING:
- Bake potatoes in the oven. See the Potatoes – Oven Baked recipe for detailed instructions.
- Place potatoes in ice water to cool. The potatoes have to be cool enough to handle and cool enough to not cook the egg yolks when you add them.
- Use a spoon to peel most of the skin off the potatoes.
- Mash the potatoes and other ingredients together in a large, flat bottom pot or on a steam table tray.
- If the potato mixture is too thick to spread, add milk until it is spreadable.
INSTRUCTIONS – FINISHING:
- Spread stew 1 1/3 inches deep in a 9 x 13 casserole dish.
- Spoon potatoes over the stew and spread to cover. It will be easier if the stew is cool and the potatoes are warm.
- Use a fork to trowel grooves into the top of the potatoes to create more surface area to brown.
- Bake at 375 for 30 – 45 minutes until heated through and brown on top.
INSTRUCTIONS – FOR LARGE GROUPS:
You should be able to fit two batches per 20 x 12 steam table tray. Each tray should serve about 18 2-cup servings.