Shepherd’s Pie is right up there with macaroni and cheese and meatloaf on my personal comfort food scale, and it’s in the regular dinner rotation at our house from about now through the end of winter, so this little variation helps keep it fresh and new. If you’re not familiar with Shepherd’s Pie, it’s a rustic British dish made with a gravy and ground meat base, topped with mashed potatoes. It’s a humble, everyday meal meant to use up leftovers. In this case, the lamb or beef mixture is spooned right into some big upturned portobello caps, and then piled high with the creamy mashed potato. I infused the whole thing with lots of piney rosemary for a little something different. They turned out great, I hope you try them.
You’ll need to look for the biggest portobello mushrooms you can find for this dish, one per serving. Look for mushrooms with a bowl type shape rather than the flat ones. I removed the stems and lightly scooped out the fins…scales?…gills, that’s it, to make room for the meat mixture. If the mushrooms are huge I’d say pre-bake them for a short time to soften them since the baking time for these little pies isn’t very long.
These turned out really well, and there was nothing tricky about putting them together. They also reheated well for leftovers. The fresh rosemary was a wonderful touch, but you can use thyme, sage, or even just parsley if you want to. Don’t use dried herbs.
- 1 lb ground beef (you can also use lean ground lamb)
- 6 Tbsp finely minced fresh rosemary (divided)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion, minced
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 heaping Tbsp flour
- 8 oz beef broth
- salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 5 or 6 large portobello mushroom caps (find rounded bowl shaped ones, not flat)
- 2 large russet (baking) potatoes, peeled and cut in large chunks
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- salt and pepper to taste
- Set oven to 375F
- Put the potatoes in a pot of water and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are soft.
- Drain the potatoes and mash with the butter and milk until smooth and creamy. Add more milk if necessary, and add salt and pepper to taste. I use my hand held electric beaters for this. Cover and set aside.
- Brown the ground beef and 2 tablespoons of the rosemary in a skillet, taking care to break up the meat into a fine crumble as it cooks. Remove to a plate.
- Add the onions to the pan and cook over medium heat until starting to brown. Add a touch of olive oil if the pan is too dry. Remove the onions to the plate with the meat.
- Add 2 Tbsp butter to the pan and let it melt. Stir in the flour and stir for a couple of minutes until it turns a nice brown. Scrape up all the bits from the bottom of the skillet as you stir.
- Add the beef stock to the pan, whisking briskly to combine everything, and cook until it thickens.
- Add the beef and onions back into the pan, draining off any excess fat before you add it, and taste to adjust your seasoning.
- Meanwhile dust off the mushrooms and remove the stems. Carefully scrape out the gills with a spoon so that you have a nice space to put the meat.
- If the mushrooms are very large, put them on a dry baking tray and cook in the oven for about 10 minutes. Then fill each mushroom with the meat mixture.
- Top each mushroom with a generous amount of mashed potato and bake for about 15 - 20 minutes until everything is hot and bubbly.
- Serve immediately with a generous sprinkling of fresh rosemary and a side of boiled peas!
Use fresh rosemary, not dried, and finely mince it, because the whole 'needles' can be tough. Remember to taste the meat mixture and the potatoes to make sure you have seasoned them well before assembling the pies.
Sorry for the photo blitz, these were just so darned cute! And by the way you could do this same thing as little appetizer sized portions, just use medium sized cremini mushrooms with rounded caps. Creminis are just young portobellos, so the flavor will be the same.
Have a great week — I can’t believe it’s November!!