How to make shepherd's pie in a slow cooker

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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 more extravagant array including corn, mushrooms, or 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.
Shepherd's Pie
10 minutes
6 hours, 10 minutes
2-lbs. (900 g) ground beef
1 1/2 teaspoon (10 g) salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon (1 g) pepper
3 carrots, chopped
2 shallots, diced
2 cups (480 ml) chicken broth
1 tablespoon (15 ml) Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
3 springs fresh thyme
2-lbs. (900 g) Yukon gold potatoes
1 cup (150 g) green peas (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk
2 tablespoon (14 g) butter
1 tablespoon (1 g) chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Crumble beef into bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Add carrots and shallots and stir to combine, then pour in chicken broth and Worcestershire. Add bay leaves and thyme and layer potatoes on top. Cook on low for 5-6 hours, until meat is browned and vegetables are tender.
Remove potatoes and place in a large bowl. Remove thyme and bay leaves and add peas to slow cooker; stir and recover. Combine potatoes with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, milk and butter and blend until desired consistency. Spoon back into slow cooker, covering the beef mixture. sprinkle with parsley.
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.
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