Winter Comfort Food: Shepherd’s Pie with a Twist

Winter means comfort food. And nothing yells comfort like Shepherd’s Pie, AKA Cottage Pie.

Here’s a recipe for Shepherd’s Pie I found years ago that I adapted for purposes of kashrut. The twist is in the baked beans at the bottom of the dish. Here’s one of my other exceptions when it comes to tinned food: I confess that one of my guilty pleasures is Heinz Baked Beans! While I really love freshly cooked beans, and in most dishes I will always opt for fresh over canned, there is a place in my heart for those rich and tangy canned beans originating in my childhood. This recipe calls for a can of baked beans, and it really makes a difference. Although, having said that, you can easily make this dish without the beans if you’d prefer not to.

Another note, don’t be concerned about the amount of liquid that goes into the ground beef. It cooks for 40 minutes, and this way, it reduces down to a wonderfully rich meat sauce that is the heart of the pie.

This is a real meal in a dish. Served with a green salad, it really needs nothing more.


Shepherd's Pie Served with a Green Salad


500g (1 lb) ground beef

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 onions finely chopped

2 carrots diced (optional)

500 ml (1 pint) chicken or beef stock (I dissolve 2 tablespoons of chicken soup powder into the boiling water)

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce*

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or dried parsley

100g (4 tablespoons) tomato paste

1 teaspoon sugar

700g-1kg (1½-2lb) potatoes peeled and cubed

2 tablespoons margarine

2 eggs

1 400g (14 oz) tin Heinz baked beans

How to do it

1. In a large wok pan, heat the oil and fry the onions (and carrots) until they have softened and the onions are golden in color.

2. Add the meat and and continue frying while stirring until the meat is all browned (no more pink bits). Drain off any fat.

3. Add the stock, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, parsley, tomato paste and sugar, mix through and bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer uncovered on medium heat for about 40 minutes, until the liquid has reduced and you are left with a thick meat sauce.

Add the liquid to the beef and simmer

4. While the meat is reducing, cook the potatoes in salted water. When they are soft, mash them with the margarine. Then slowly add 1 beaten egg slowly to the mash, stirring as you add (making sure you don’t get a scrambled egg in the middle), until the mash is smooth.

5. In a medium-sized greased casserole dish, spread out the beans. Then add the meat and spread it out evenly. Let the meat cool down a little. Add the mashed potatoes in small dollops over the top of the meat, spreading it evenly to cover all the meat (I often use my fingers for the small spaces so the meat doesn’t ooze up the sides).

Note: Make sure your casserole leaves at least 1cm between the top of the pie and the top of the dish as the potato will rise a little and the sauce will bubble up, and if it’s too close to the top, it will drip out.

6. Beat the second egg and with a brush, spread it over the top of the pie, covering the whole area.

After 40 minutes of simmering, the meat sauce will be reduced and thick

7. Bake at 180ºC (350ºF) for 20-30 minutes or until the top is an even, light brown color.

*Kashrut note:  Look for a hechsher that doesn’t say “fish”, such as OU-F or STAR-K Fish. If these products are marked with only the OU or STAR-K, then the product contains less than 1.66% fish and can be used with meat. If you can’t find a product with this hechsher, you can leave out the Worcestershire sauce from the recipe.


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