How To Make Granny's Killer Shepherds' Pie - With Pastry Recipe

My granny made absolutely killer Shepherd’s Pie. She would grind up the remains of the Sunday roast lamb or pork shoulder, add whatever ground meat she had on hand (usually veal, or sometimes, beef), and throw in anything else that took her fancy and seemed likely to fit in. Granny was very French in her cooking, so you knew there would always be onions, garlic and usually mushrooms. Then, she smothered it all in a creamy, mashed potato crust, baked to a delicious golden-brown and, “Voila!”

To transform her classic into another very French, Christmas Eve treat, simply add the mashed potato to the filling, adjust the seasoning slightly, and top it with a delectable flaky pastry, and you will have a tourtiere fit for a king, or queen if you prefer.

This particular version of tourtiere is presented as an appetizer instead of the usual main course. You can use a fine, short, thinly rolled out crust, puff pastry, or layers of phylo pastry made even more delectable by buttering each layer.

I have included both her original Shepherd's Pie recipe, and a variation that was traditionally served on Christmas Eve, usually after the midnight carol service. I have many warm, childhood memories of frosty windows, steaming with the heat from the busy kitchen, and savory smells making young tummies growl in anticipation of treats just waiting to be devoured.

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Spicy Parsnip Topped Shepherds' Pie
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Irish Shepherds' Pie
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Individual Shepherds' Pies
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Cottage Pie
Meatball Shepherds' Pie
Meatball Shepherds' Pie

Granny's Shepherd's Pie

For the filling you will need:

  • 1 lb lean ground beef (You can substitute 1/2 lb left-over roast, ground fine, and 1/2 lb fresh ground meat - lamb and veal, pork and lamb, or pork and beef are very nice combinations)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, washed and sliced - your choice, but portabello is a favorite of mine for this recipe
  • 2 stalks celery, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp savory, dried or fresh
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup chicken broth or meat stock
  • salt and pepper to taste

Vegetable Layer:

  • baby carrots, roll-cut in 1/2 inch pieces and steamed to crunchy-tender
  • frozen or canned, drained kernel corn - about 2 - 3 cups vegetables, combined

Topping:

  • cooked potatoes, mashed and whipped 'til flufy with heavy cream and butter - about 4 - 6 cups, depending on the size of your baking dish
  • 1/2 cup grated white cheddar, we prefer aged or old
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped


Instructions

  1. In a heavy skillet, sauté garlic and onions in good quality oil (cold pressed virgin olive, safflower, canola) 'til almost transparent. Remove from skillet and set aside.
  2. Raise heat and quickly sauté mushrooms 'til just done. Set aside with onions.
  3. Lower heat and add ground beef (or fresh ground meat of your choice). Cook, stirring to break up meat, until no pink remains.
  4. Pour off any excess oil or fat and return to heat. Add cooked ground meat and stir until heated through. Add mushrooms and onions and stir to combine. Add seasonings. Salt and pepper to taste, and adjust seasonings as required.
  5. Pour in chicken broth or stock, and stir 'til combined. Remove mixture to an oven-proof baking dish or casserole.
  6. Top with vegetable layer, enough to completely cover the meat mixture. Gently mound on the mashed potatoes, smoothing the top slightly. Sprinkle with grated cheese and parsley. Place in 400 F oven to brown crust.
  7. When cheese is melted and bubbly, and the crust is golden brown, remove from oven and serve immediately with tossed green salad and a fresh crusty loaf.
Delectable Tourtiere
Delectable Tourtiere
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Fresh and Hot
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Italian Tourtiere
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Crusty Perfection
Get 'Em Quick, Before They're All Gone
Get 'Em Quick, Before They're All Gone

Christmas Eve Tourtiere

Filling:

You can substitute 1/2 lb. left-over roast, ground fine, and and 1/2 lb. fresh ground meat - lamb and veal, pork and lamb, or pork and beef are very nice combinations.

Ingredients

  • 1 potato, very large, peeled and quartered
  • 1 lb. lean ground pork, OR substitute 1/2 cooked meat, ground, plus 1/2 lb. fresh ground meat
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, cleaned and cut in 3 pieces, leaves on
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. savory, fresh or dried, ground
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves, ground
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 pkg. frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg, beaten with a fork

Method

In saucepan, bring lightly salted water to boil. Add potato quarters and cook til tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon when done, mash and set aside.

Discard all but 1/2 cup potato water. Add ground meat, onion, celery, garlic, savory, thyme, allspice, and cloves. Break ground meat with a spoon. Simmer and cook uncovered until meat is no longer pink and liquid is reduced by half.

Remove celery pieces and discard. Stir in mashed potato, and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste. Adjust seasoning to taste, and let cool in refrigerator.

Divide puff pastry into quarters. Roll out each quarter into a 12 x 9 inch rectangle and cut into twelve equal pieces.

Brush each piece with beaten egg and place a heaping teaspoon of meat mixture in the center of each.

Fold pastry over filling to enclose filling and make a triangle. Dip tines of a fork in flour and lightly crimp the edges of the pastry triangle together to seal them.

Continue with the remainder of the dough and reserve any left-over beaten egg in the refrigerator.

Turnovers may now be covered and refrigerated overnight, or sealed in freezer bags and frozen for up to two months. Thaw in refrigerator before baking.

Arrange turnovers on baking sheet, brush with reserved beaten egg. Bake in center of oven at 400 F. until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Serve hot with cranberry/walnut conserve, or your favorite red or green tomato chutney.

These delicous morsels are sure to become a family favorite.

Please rate this recipe

5 stars from 1 rating of Shepherd's Pie

© 2009 RedElf

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Comments 36 comments

Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 7 years ago from Canada's 'California'

so...when did you say you were coming by to cook this? Hmmmmm?? I'm sure I could invite a few hubfriends over for a repast....:D :D shall we say next Tuesday? LOL Great hub, will definitely be trying this recipe out on the family!


RedElf profile image

RedElf 7 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks, Enelle - anytime you'd like...should we have roast lamb as well, LOL?


Candie V profile image

Candie V 7 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

Enelle, call me when it's arrainged, I shall be there with my napking fastened in my collar! Yuummm!


Hawkesdream profile image

Hawkesdream 7 years ago from Cornwall

Me too, especially if you are doing the pastry topping! yum.


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 7 years ago from Canada's 'California'

I definitely think RedElf should make several selections, judging by the response so far LOL


RedElf profile image

RedElf 7 years ago from Canada Author

You're on, ladies, but we'll have to have it at Enelle's as my home-hub is currently undergoing sub-division (lol). I hear she has a very sunny backyard, though, so if one of you (Candie V?) wants to bring a big pitcher of Sangria, and another would bring a lovely crisp green salad (Hawkesdream ?), Enelle can supply the yard, the table and chairs, and candles (in case the diners linger into the evening), and I shall supply, ohhh, let's say meatball pie, tortiere (with the pastry crust) and the turnovers in phylo...sound like a plan? Oh, and something light and chocolaty for dessert - oops. Nope, can't bring that - haven't written that hub yet.


tdarby profile image

tdarby 7 years ago

Nice!


Camping Dan profile image

Camping Dan 7 years ago

Sound delicious! We were just talking about what to do for dinner and I have plenty of ground beef.


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 7 years ago from United States

Bookmarked this hub recipe and ready to go get the ingredients. I've got to give both of these a try.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 7 years ago from Canada Author

tdarby, thanks for stopping by

Camping Dan, happy to have helped out, and thanks for stopping by

Enjoy, Jerilee - always nice to share one of my granny's best, and so glad you stopped by


Earthscribe profile image

Earthscribe 7 years ago from Tampa, Florida

YUM!! I never got the family recipe, so here's my chance to save face :) Thanks!


RedElf profile image

RedElf 7 years ago from Canada Author

Nice to meet you, Earthscribe. Hope the recipe does you proud, adn good lick with the 30in 30 challenge!


Wayne Orvisburg profile image

Wayne Orvisburg 7 years ago

Sounds good. I'll have to try it.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 7 years ago from Canada Author

Cheers, Wayne, and thanks for stopping by to comment - nice to meet you!


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

RedElf - now I can't wait for winter - that shepherd's pie looks divine! People always say that you have to make it with lamb but I'm glad to see it's okay with beef.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 7 years ago from Canada Author

Greetings, Dolores. You can use almost any meat - even the vegetarian version can be quite scrumptious. So glad you stopped by and commented.


itakins profile image

itakins 6 years ago from Irl

Wow -these look absolutely scrumptious.Brilliant.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks so much. Thanks for stopping by to comment.


Info Help profile image

Info Help 6 years ago from Chicago

Hi RedElf,

I am going to make your grandma's original recipe tonight for dinner for my family. It sounds delicious and I cannot wait to try it!


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

So glad you like Granny's recipe, Info Help! Thanks so much for stopping by to comment.


Lady-of-the-Lake profile image

Lady-of-the-Lake 6 years ago from Ohio

I make shepherd's pie myself. I think it bears mentioning that shredded beef roast AND GRAVY make a great pie too. My son can hardly wait until I make it a day or two after crock pot roast night. He likes shredded cheese on top of the potatoes too. I think adding cheese is an Italian thing though.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks so much! nice to meet you, Lady. We like it too - my daughter-in-law makes a version with ground meat topped by creamed corn, and them mashed potatoes over all. She puts cheese on hers, too.


Winsome profile image

Winsome 6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

RedElf, all I can say is ya-ummmmmmm! We are fortunate to have a British Pub & Eatery with a French-trained chef that makes a "pasty" with shepherd's pie filling that is scrumptious. Your hub gives me an idea for my left-over Texas slow-cooked brisket. Together with a little ground pork and your Gram's recipe--voila y'all! Thanks =:)


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

Hey, Winsome! That Texas slow-cooked brisket sounds amazing. Make a hub and I'll come for the recipe - better yet, make the dish, and I'll just show up for dinner! :D


Winsome profile image

Winsome 6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

It's a date RedElf. =:)


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

See you then!


Xonica profile image

Xonica 6 years ago from Scotland

lol oh my gosh its midnight here and that just made me so hungry! ...sounds yummy , going to try this one.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

I hope you're not too hungry to sleep, Xonica. Enjoy! Nice to meet you.


TransScribbler 6 years ago

Now that I have finished wipping the drool from my keyboard, I can thank you for this great recipe! I am another grandchild who remembers old meat grinders and leftover rost meat going in to shepherds/cottage pies, pasties, etc. Being a fan of home made over store bought (read as "processed") foods, this one is going in my recipe file! Will let you know how it turns out.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

You are most welcome, TransScribbler - always nice to meet another "collector"! I look forward to hearing from you.


d.william profile image

d.william 6 years ago from Somewhere in the south

Wow. talk about good timing. i am having some friends over and wanted to make shepherd's pie and could not find my recipe. I was just going on line to find one somewhere when i ran across yours. Thanks.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

So happy I could help out with Granny's recipe, D. :)


debbiesdailyviews profile image

debbiesdailyviews 5 years ago

This has made me " STARVING "

Going to mark this, and try it.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 5 years ago from Canada Author

You'll enjoy Granny's recipe - guaranteed! Thanks for commenting, Debbie.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

RedElf, our family loves shepard's pie. You recipes look so good I can wait to try them. Bookmarked, up, and useful.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 5 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks so much, Gal. We love it, too. I think the only version we like better is one called Pate Chinoise.

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