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Shepherd’s pie

Jacqueline Zonkowski
Wine Pairings: Red Blend

Our food and wine pairing to make you yearn for Fall


Savvy match: While it may seem traditional to pair Shepherd’s pie with a dark ale, switch up and give a red blend a try. The acidity in the red wine with its mild tannins takes on the rich flavor of this meat pie. So the next chilly evening, you decide to pop this in the oven, make sure you’ve got your bottle in hand for the perfect balance. You may even want to pour some in the stew for an extra pop of flavor.

English cuisine is primarily constructed of gravy, meat, and potatoes. But, on an island where the sun is mostly MIA is constantly covered by grey clouds and misting precipitation, I think you’d want some good old-fashioned stick to your bones comfort food. Most of us look to the body and soul-warming stews and casseroles during the winter months. The good news is Shepherd’s pie checks both of those boxes. It’s the perfect dish — it’s a stew covered in decadent creamy mashed potatoes and baked into a casserole that’s guaranteed to warm you up after shoveling snow, a day on the slopes, or even if you were sitting by the fire thinking about how cold it is outside! 

It’s simply delicious no matter how you make it, so feel free to experiment and make it your own. If you want to make it gluten-free, add a slurry of 3 tablespoons of corn starch and enough water to absorb it after adding all of the liquid to the filling and then reducing rather than adding the flour earlier in the cooking process. This thickening method is often my preferred technique anyway. 



For Potatoes
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes
  • ¼ cup heavy cream or whole milk
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 4 tablespoons butter
For Meat Filling
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Ground beef and/or lamb (1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 3 large carrots medium dice
  • 2 stalks celery medium dice
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped or minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary finely chopped (Can substitute dry)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (Can substitute dry)
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • ½ cup Guinness draught beer
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour



For the Potato Topping

Peel and cut potatoes into 1-inch chunks. Rinse under cold water for about 30 seconds. Then in a large pot, cover potatoes with cold water, about 3 inches above the potatoes, season with a healthy handful of salt, and place over high heat. Once the water begins to boil, reduce to a low simmer, and cook for about 10 minutes or until potatoes are soft and give little resistance when poked with a fork. Drain potatoes, and rinse with warm water.


For the Meat Filing

In a Dutch oven, add oil on medium-high heat until shimmering. Break up the meat with your hands into the pot, and continue breaking up once added with a wire potato masher. If excess fat is rendered, use a large spoon, tip the pot to one side and ladle off pooled fat. Leave about 2-3 tablespoons in the pot.


Once the meat is browned, add the onion, carrot, garlic, rosemary, and thyme, scraping up any small browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Then add flour and mix well into the meat and mirepoix.  Add tomato paste and stir until incorporated, still scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Add beer to the mixture, bring to a simmer, reduce by about half, add the stock, and continue to simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.


For Assembly and Baking

Set oven to 425F, and place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Warm the cream/milk and sour cream in a saucepan to make it hot, not boiling, and allow the sour cream to dissolve. Add the butter and slowly add the cream to the potatoes and mash. The mashed potatoes should be a little looser than usual since you need to spread them and then bake. 


Add the meat filling to a 9X13 casserole dish, and then top with potatoes making an even layer to the edges. Sprinkle with pecorino or parmesan on top and bake for 20 minutes. If you’d like a deep brown crust on top, switch to broil for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Let stand for 15 minutes and serve. 

Chef Image

About Jacqueline Zonkowski

As an avid traveler, Jacqueline started finding herself in popular wine regions around the world, fueling her passion for food and wine. When she isn't traveling you will find her at home with a glass of wine in hand and a smile on her face while tasting new recipes with her Chef husband. She received her WSET Level II Certification with Distinction, Argentina Wine Specialist, and Oregon Wine Expert certifications. Jacqueline has worked in the wine marketing and hospitality industry for many years. She continues to increase her wine knowledge and looks forward to creating her own wine one day.