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RECIPE: Shepherd’s Pie Twice-Baked Potatoes

Shepherd's Pie Baked Potato
[1] Today’s recipe: Shepherd’s Pie X Baked Potatoes (photo © Idaho Potato Commission).

Shepherd's Pie
The American version of Shepherd’s Pie adds vegetables (photo © Foster’s Market Cookbook).

Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie
[3] Shepherd’s Pie with sweet potato mashed potatoes, at Centerville Pie Company. You can also use a polenta top crust (photo © Centerville Pie Company).

Fancy Shepherd's Pie
[4] Fancy Shepherd’s Pie, showing that even a humble comfort food can be transformed into banquet fare. Here’s the recipe from Chopin And My Saucepan (photo © Chopin And My Saucepan).


If you didn’t find what you were looking for in yesterday’s roundup of St. Patrick’s Day recipes, we’ll be adding new ones over the next week.

Today’s recipe, Shepherd’s Pie Twice-Baked Potatoes (below), fuses a British-Irish favorite, Shepherd’s Pie, with a baked potato.

Shepherd’s Pie is a dish consisting of minced meat, usually lamb but also beef, in which case it is called cottage pie.

It’s made in a pie plate; the top is covered with a mashed potatoes. It’s baked until the mashed potatoes brown, creating a top crust. There is no bottom crust.

Topping the potato crust with breadcrumbs creates a Cumberland Pie.

While the classic U.K. comfort food recipe does not include vegetables, Americans have added corn, carrots and other veggies to the recipe, riffing off of the pot pie.

The term “cottage pie” predates “shepherd’s pie” by nearly a century, but the terms were long used synonymously until the lamb-beef differentiation was set down [source].

Cottage pie was an affordable meat dish for peasants and shepherds, who resided in humble cottages.

The name was bestowed on the dish some time later. Initially, it fell into the generic category of meat pie.

Potatoes came from the New World, first brought to Europe by the Spanish in the 16th century. It took until the late 16th century for potatoes to begin to be grown in Ireland.

In 1589, the British explorer Sir Walter Raleigh brought potatoes to Ireland and planted them at his estate near Cork. The local gentry were invited to a banquet featuring the potato in every course.

The peasants who grew the potatoes had been handed an important new food crop, which became a staple in Ireland.

  • Many vegetarians and vegans call a meat-free version a “shepherdless” pie.”
  • The same dish in France is named “hachis Parmentier”, after the Frenchman who convinced his country to eat potatoes (they were believed to be poisonous; and in fact, the leaves are). “Hachis,” which takes its root from the English word “hatchet,” refers to a dish containing chopped or minced ingredients.
  • Indian cooks used shepherd’s pie for tiffin, a word used in British India to mean a between-meal snack (it has different meanings in other parts of the country).
  • The Chilean version, “Pastel de Papa”, is a dish similar to Shepherd’s Pie that also contains hard-boiled eggs, raisins and black olives.


    This recipe, by Carla Cardello for the Idaho Potato Commission, marries Shepherd’s Pie to Twice-Baked Potatoes.

    Carla used ground beef in her recipe, along with the American-favored medley of vegetables, including carrots, corn, green beans and peas.

    Frankly, we think the American approach is better, adding more dimensions of flavor than plain ground meat and mashed potatoes.

    She also added a sprinkle of cheddar cheese and a bit of fresh rosemary. The Idaho Potato folks say this dish will bring the Luck of the Irish to your St. Patrick’s Day celebration.


  • 4 large Idaho potatoes
  • 8 ounces ground beef or lamb
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 cup canned tomato sauce (not spaghetti sauce)
  • 2 cups frozen vegetable medley (carrots, peas, corn, and green beans), thawed
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet. Brush each with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and prick with the tines of a fork. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until fork tender. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F. Meanwhile…

    2. COMBINE the beef, onion and salt in a large hot skillet and cook until the beef is browned, breaking it into pieces with a spatula as it cooks. Drain off any excess grease. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

    3. ADD the tomato sauce and vegetables. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring often. Add the broth and Worcestershire sauce and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the mixture is thick and glossy, stirring often. Add the rosemary.

    Once the potatoes are done cooking…

    4. CUT in half lengthwise. Scoop the insides into a large mixing bowl, being careful not to tear the shell. Place the hollowed potato shells back onto the baking sheet.

    5. BEAT the cooked potato insides with an electric mixer (or by hand with a potato masher), until mashed and smooth. Do not over-beat. Beat in the butter and salt until completely incorporated then slowly beat in the milk. Stir in 1/2 cup cheese.

    6. DIVIDE the meat mixture among the potato shells. Top with mashed potatoes then sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Bake at 350°F for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown and cheese has melted.

    This Shepherd’s Pie recipe—the real pie, not a potato—has a Middle Eastern twist. Roasted cumin and chickpeas (garbanzo beans), a Mediterranean duet, are added to deliver warm, earthy flavor harmonies.


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