It’s hard to imagine a combination more comforting than meaty stew and mashed potatoes. Shepherd’s pie, also called cottage pie, is a classic British dish with a history that spans three centuries. Originally designed as a way to use up leftovers, the dish is rather time-consuming if constructed from scratch. Making the dish in the slow cooker streamlines the process, transforming a usually fussy meal into a weeknight wonder.
Like most classic dishes, shepherd’s pie has lots of variations. Some versions are made with lamb, others with beef. Vegetables may be a simple combination of peas and carrots or a more extravagant array including corn, mushrooms and turnips. Sometimes the sauce is tomato-based, but I prefer it simple and savory, like a gravy. My version keeps it economical with ground beef while adding fresh herbs for a decadent flavor.
Slow Cooker Shepherd's Pie
4 hours, 30 minutes
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
3 teaspoons salt, divided
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 cup small-diced onion
2 pounds ground beef
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups small-diced carrots
1 cup green peas, fresh or frozen
½ cup sour cream
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
Add potatoes and 1 teaspoon of salt into a large pot. Fill with water and boil potatoes until cooked all the way through. Avoid overcooking the potatoes; they should not be falling apart in water. Drain potatoes and transfer to a large bowl.
While potatoes are boiling, heat oil in a saute pan on medium-high heat. Add onions, ground beef, bay leaves, pepper and 1 teaspoon salt. Brown beef until fully cooked. Drain any excess grease and remove bay leaves.
Pour beef mixture into a 6-quart slow cooker.
Make a slurry by combining cornstarch and water. Mix well until there are no lumps. Add slurry into the slow cooker along with tomato paste, Worcestershire, carrots and peas.
In the bowl of potatoes, add 1 teaspoon salt, sour cream, butter and parsley. Mash everything together with a potato masher or two forks. Mix well until evenly combined.
Evenly spread mashed potatoes on top of ground beef in the slow cooker.
Cook on high for 4 hours, or on low for 7.
Remove pot from slow cooker base and allow to cool and set for 15 minutes before serving.
Pro tip: This recipe works well with other ground meats and starchy vegetables. Try substituting the ground beef with turkey or lamb, and replace the potatoes with parsnips or sweet potatoes.
Note: All slow cookers are a little bit different in temperature and calibration. This recipe was tested in Cooktop Cove's Test Kitchen using this slow cooker, which is available for purchase here.
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