Most Shepherd Pies seem stodgy to me, almost heavy with potatoes, meat, and gravy piled into a starchy shell. Men love them, including my husband. Maybe it’s because it fulfills every meat-and-potato desire as well as having a sticking-solidly-to-the-ribs quality. This version, though is lightened with summer green beans and mushrooms. It is flavored with sherry and thyme and my husband went nuts over it. This is amazing made with a Perfect Pie Crust. And who can’t use a recipe for ground beef that’s not just another casserole? I made this recipe with both Yukon Gold potatoes and baking potatoes, oddly, I preferred the baking potatoes. They don’t have the highest reputation as mashers but perhaps because they do get baked on the pie they turn really light and stay fluffy, almost like a savory frosting. The key to keeping this recipe a winner is simply in the separate seasoning of all the ingredients, using salt and pepper liberally to make each flavor pop.
This makes 1 9-inch pie
1 pound grass-fed ground beef
1/2 of a large onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp. hot sauce (Franks is great, though I used a lacto-fermented scotch bonnet hot sauce from our neighbors for this recipe)
4 oz. sliced mushrooms (baby Portobello are the best)
Scant 1/2 pound fresh green beans
1/2 cup sherry or dry wine
4 sprigs fresh thyme
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter (or olive oil)
Sea salt, pepper
4 cups leftover mashed potatoes
4 medium potatoes
3-4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup whole milk
1. Pre-bake pie crust at 375º with pie weights for 12 minutes. Remove pie weights and bake for an additional 7-10 minutes or until evenly browned.
2. If you do have leftover mashed potatoes skip to step 3. Otherwise, peel and boil potatoes in salted water until completely tender. Mash with 1/2 cup milk and 3-4 Tbsp. butter. Check for salt, add more if it can’t stand alone as flavorful mashed potatoes. Set aside.
3. Chop onion. Brown ground beef in a frying pan, breaking it up as you go, and add onion. Saute until onion is soft and meat is fully cooked. Chop garlic and add to pan, cook an additional minute or so. Season with salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Pour meat mixture into pie crust pressing down slightly.
5. Trim and chop green beans into thirds. Cook briefly in boiling salted water until just tender, about 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Spread over meat mixture.
4. Saute mushrooms in 3 Tbsp. butter–in the same pan used for the meat–until golden brown over med-high heat, sprinkle with salt and pepper, add thyme, and sherry. Boil until sherry is reduced by a 1/3. Pour mushrooms evenly over green beans.
5. Spread mashed potatoes over mushrooms, piling them high. Bake for 30-40 minutes on 375º or until the mashed potato peaks begin to brown beautifully.