November 30th, 2011

Fancy Shepherd’s Pie


Living with a vegetarian restricts my intake of red meat. This is not a complaint–trust me. I consider it a benefit. I’m an omnivore who is happy–and better off– not consuming the vast quantity of beef that many Americans do. And, with just two in our household, it doesn’t make sense for me to buy those great hunks needed for pot roast, meat loaf, and the like.

But, cooking for our Third Thursday Community Potluck is a different matter. No restrictions! Here I get the chance to Go Big and Meaty, should I choose. From time to time, I splurge, and cook up a cauldron of something wonderful and stew-ish. Because it’s so infrequent, I enjoy the process, lengthy as it can be, and really savor the results.


For our most recent potluck gathering–a week before T-Day–I indulged in stewy-splurge. I made a supa-sized batch of Shepherd’s Pie, fancy-pants style. Onions, carrots and parsnips, oven-roasted to a caramel sweet, were folded in with tender chunks of beef, browned and simmered in an enamel cast-iron pot.

Not so fancy, you say?

Not until this step–


Potatoes seasoned with chives and paprika were whipped light and buttery—then piped in a mound of pretty rosettes, sealing in the stew. The whole she-bang went into the oven for a final blast, emerging puffed and golden and utterly irresistible.

Oh, yeah.


Another fancy note, regarding the green you see flecked in the pot. This is “Par-Cel” a parsley-celery hybrid that one of our local farmers was selling last week. Have you ever seen–or used it before? I couldn’t resist something so new. I was surprised at how it tasted: Indeed a true hybrid–possessing both fresh parsley and celery leaf flavors. It was a nice addition, plunged into the pot at the end of cooking time.




5 lb. Boneless Chuck Roast, trimmed and cut into cubes
4-5 cloves Garlic, minced
1/4 cup Olive Oil
4 T. Balsamic Vinegar
1 1/2 t. Kosher or Sea Salt
1 t. Black Pepper
a few sprigs of fresh Thyme
a couple of sprigs of fresh Rosemary
2 Bay Leaves
1 T. Olive Oil
2 T. Flour


Place cubed meat into a mixing bowl. Stir in minced garlic, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle salt and pepper. Strip the sprigs of thyme and rosemary and stir into the meat. The meat should be well coated. Add bay leaves. Allow to marinate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.


Heat the stew pot on medium. Add olive oil. Add meat, a few pieces at a time. Do not crowd. Brown the meat on all sides, and remove–putting into a separate bowl. Continue the browning process. When all the meat is browned, toss with 2 T. flour.

Return to the flour-coated meat to the pot and cook gently–toasting the flour. Stir in water to cover, scraping up browned bits from the bottom and sides of the pot. Cover and simmer for at least an hour. Meat should be fork tender.


1 lb. Carrots, cleaned and sliced on the diagonal into pieces
1 lb. Parsnips, cleaned and sliced on the diagonal into pieces
2-3 medium Onions, sliced lengthwise into 1/2″ strips
Olive Oil
Salt and Black Pepper
Par-cel, or Fresh Parsley Leaves, or Celery Leaves

Spread out vegetables on a baking sheet and lightly coat with olive oil. Season with sea salt and black pepper.

Roast in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, until pieces are softened and caramelized. Remove from heat.

When the beef is tender, add the vegetable to the pot. Stir in chopped Par-cel (or parsley, or celery leaves) Taste for seasoning.


4 lb. Russet Potatoes, washed, peeled, quartered
1 stick Butter, cut into pieces
1 bundle fresh Chives
Salt and Black Pepper
1 c. Milk

pastry bag fitted with a star tip

Place potatoes into a large pot of lightly salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife tip.

Pour cooked potatoes into a colander. Drain well and return to the pot. Under low heat, toss the potatoes in the pot to cook off any remaining water.

Place warm potatoes into a big mixing bowl. Using a stand or hand-held mixer, beat the potatoes until the lumps are broken down. Beat in the butter. Season to taste with salt, black pepper. Beat in chives. Slowly add milk, continuing to whip the potatoes until they become creamy and somewhat fluffy.

Spoon whipped potatoes into a large pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe rosettes allover the top of the beef stew. Continue to mound the potato rosettes.

Sprinkle with paprika and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes—until stew is bubbly and potato topping is puffed and golden.

Serves a Potluck Crowd!



Third Thursday Potluck friends surround the feasting table.

Posted in Casseroles, Meats/Poultry, Recipes, Soups/Stews

23 Responses to “Fancy Shepherd’s Pie”
  1. The Elegant Eggplant Says:

    That is just beautiful!! The potatoes really do look fancy ;)

  2. Nicole Says:

    It indeed sounds fancy-pants and hearty (if we ever get a winter on the East Coast!) anyway, weather won’t stop me, this looks like a good entertaining dish for any of these dark nights!
    Intriguing the hybrid ParCel- I can imagine it has exciting flavor!

  3. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    Fancy, indeed, Par-Cel and all. Looks delish!

  4. Nic@diningwithastud Says:

    Ooooh snazzy :) Looks delish! I think its great that you dont eat a lot of meat. Sometimes it can get a little too much. Im the same. When my fiance isnt home, Im happy to make a veg stir fry for myself but also do love a good steak.

  5. Michele | Cooking At Home Says:

    Perfect to make on a cold stormy day in the northeast. Love the idea of infusing flavor before you cook the beef. Par-cel sounds intriguing.Beautiful.

  6. Nancy Says:

    OH MY!!!! What a fancy way to make a pot roast!!!! I am going to try this for sure!!! My family will love this!

  7. Tracy Says:

    Your dish stands out on that table. I’ll take a big ole heaping spoon of it. Nice for leftovers. Oh so nice.

  8. Barbara Says:

    That looks so pretty, Nancy! A very elegant dish for company and under those piped potatoes, a comforting and hearty dish!

  9. Candy Cossuth Says:

    Speaking of Shepards Pie, I was left with a huge amount
    of breast meat turkey from Thanksgiving. Waste not want not me, conjured up a Turkey Shepard’s Pie using onions, carrots,garlic,parsley added to the ground cooked turkey made the filling juicy. Usual mashed potato layers top and bottom need to be baked only 30 minutes as filling was already cooked.
    As far as wonderful par-cel for flavor, down in S Fla where we don’t have too many creative farmers, I think I would add celery to mixture to get the same effect.

    How I love your blog with photos and precise amounts in recipes.

  10. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Candy–Your turkey version sounds terrific! That’s the beauty of Shepherd’s Pie–it lends itself so easily to variation, the mashed potato “crust” topping being the unifying element. Lamb is a delicious–and possibly original–ingredient that I would have enjoyed too.

  11. Faith Says:

    What a stew! Full of flavor with the roasted veggies and tender meat…and those beautiful rosettes really are the icing on the cake!

  12. Mary Says:

    My goodness! This is the most beautiful shepherd’s pie I have ever seen. I bet it was delicious too!

  13. Christy Says:

    Being a vegetarian is definitely fun and healthy; I love being half a vegetarian too :D
    Hahaha, guess you had lots of fun to go without any restriction;)

  14., Teresa Blackburn Says:

    Well I felt like a very lucky lady indeed to have eaten some of your uber deliciously good Shepherd’s Pie at the last Third Thursday of 2011! It was almost “velvety” if beef, vegetables and sauce can be so. A very dressed-up presentation of a dish with a humble heritage. Isn’t that the very best way to eat?
    Great post Nance.

  15. Beth Says:

    That is one gorgeous dish. I love the way you piped the potatoes on top. It’s inspired me to try the same thing next time I make shepherd’s pie!

  16. Kitchen Belleicious Says:

    fancy indeed and beautiful and mouth watering and comforting and it just makes me drool! Definitely something I need to do soon. Do you know I have never done a shepherd’s pie before. That is going to change fast after seeing your post here. I love the roasted veggies and that tender meat!

  17. Tammy Says:

    I make 5 – 10 of these monthly although never so fancy and usually with chicken or turkey. My dh and kids love them. They freeze so well for my grandma too.

  18. Caroline Says:

    How gorgeous! I love piping potatoes. Well, and shepherd’s pie, so this dish would get four forks from me. Yum! x

  19. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best Says:

    Oh this looks magnificent and I am looking forward to trying this fancy shepherds pie. I’ve never seen par-cel, the flavor would make an intriguing addition to any stew I would imagine. Love that you made rosettes out of the mashed potatoes.

  20. Emily Malloy @Cleanliness Says:

    Holy yumm!

  21. Magda Says:

    Par-Cel… now that’s something new!
    Lovely dish Nancy, perfect for a crowd and for cold evenings!

  22. Maggie Says:

    Love this recipe! I made it for Pi day a few weeks ago, with a few tweaks just because of time and budget, but everyone loved it. My good friend had his first helping to be polite, and then had seconds and thirds.

  23. goodfoodmatters Says:

    HI Maggie—what a great idea for Pi Day! so glad that you enjoyed the recipe, and that it was well-loved by your friends. thanks for sharing. Nancy

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