Individual Shepherd’s Pies
3 months ago

Individual Shepherd’s Pies

If Shepherd’s Pie has a flaw, it’s that it’s so hearty and satisfying, people can’t resist it right out of the oven. They dive in, loading up their plates with heaps of mashed potatoes, scooping out extra gravy and … throwing off the precious filling-to-potato ratio. 

We decided to solve this problem by making Shepherd’s Pie in individual serving sizes, so everyone around the table is guaranteed the perfect amount of creamy potatoes, rich gravy and crunchy vegetables. The end result really hits the spot: The caramelized tomatoes give it a rich umami flavor, and the potatoes, which we piped on so they’d remain light and fluffy, crisped up ever so slightly in the oven. It’s a lovely balance of creamy and crunchy, and it’s a comforting meal if ever there was one.

Traditionally Shepherd’s pie is made with lamb. As Samantha Seneviratne writes in the New York Times: “Shepherds are in the business of herding sheep, which makes lamb the most obvious choice for this pie.” In the United States, it’s commonly made with ground beef — an iteration of the ground-meat pie called cottage pie — and that’s what we went with in this accessible recipe, while retaining the more familiar Shepherd’s Pie name.

But the pivotal word in this recipe is “individual” because it means you get your very own pie — and you’ll never have to fight for your share of mashed potatoes again!

4 pies
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes


For the mashed potatoes:
3 to 4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 ½ pounds), peeled
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup milk
Kosher salt, to taste

For the filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ pounds ground beef
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1 large carrot, diced small
1 yellow onion, diced small
2 celery stalks, diced small
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 ounces cremini mushrooms, diced small
¼ cup red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 ½ cups beef stock
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, minced (reserve a pinch for garnish)
½ cup frozen peas
½ cup frozen corn kernels


For the mashed potatoes:

  1. In a medium pot, cover the potatoes with cold water and bring to a boil until fork-tender, 35 to 40 minutes.
  2. Drain and transfer the potatoes to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and milk, and season with salt. Beat until incorporated and smooth. (You can also hand mash the potatoes.)
  3. Carefully transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a star tip.

For the filling:

  1. Heat oven to 375 F.
  2. In a large skillet, bring the olive oil to medium heat. Add the ground beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon or spatula. Season with salt and pepper and brown the beef completely. Remove the browned ground beef from the pan and set aside. Discard any excess fat from the pan.
  3. Return the pan to medium heat and add the carrots, onions, celery and garlic and sauté until tender and fragrant, about 7 minutes.
  4. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 2 minutes more.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat, pour in the red wine and stir.
  6. Return the pan to the heat and stir in the tomato paste, flour, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard and beef stock, and bring to a simmer, stirring periodically, until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon 3 to 5 minutes.
  7. Stir in the browned ground beef, bay leaf, thyme leaves, peas and corn, and cook for 2 minutes, then remove from heat.
  8. Divide the filling mixture evenly between 4 16-ounce crocks and pipe the mashed potato mixture on top of the filling in quarter-size dollops.
  9. Bake for 35 minutes. The top of the pie will be lightly golden and beginning to crisp. You can broil on high for 1 to 2 minutes if your potatoes haven’t begun to brown after 35 minutes.
  10. Let the pies rest for 5 minutes and serve hot.
Individual Shepherd’s Pies