Shepherd's Pie: The Ultimate Comfort Food

This shepherd's pie is delectable after cold and rainy sails, and is easy to make and clean up.

Shepherd's Pie Recipe

1 tablespoon oil
1-2 large onions, finely chopped
1½ to 2 pounds lean ground beef
1 large or 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup beef stock
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
1-2 cups peas (canned, or frozen and precooked)
4-5 cups mashed potatoes (pre-prepared)
Sharp cheddar cheese, to taste

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Sauté onion in oil until soft. Add meat, sauté until browned. Add carrots and cook until just tender-crisp. Sprinkle in flour. Stir and cook 1 minute. Stir in stock and Worcestershire sauce; bring to a boil, reduce heat. Simmer for two to three minutes, until thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Add peas, stir, and transfer to a deep, greased, 11-by-7-inch ovenproof dish. Cover with mashed potatoes to desired thickness. Place on cookie sheet and bake until heated through, about 30-40 minutes. Top with cheese, return to oven, and heat until cheese is melted. (Ovens vary; time and temperature may need adjustment.) Serves six (or two, with leftovers!)

My husband, Robert, and I sail our Pearson 31, First Look, out of Waukegan, Illinois. We've spent two of the last three summers cruising to, through and back from Lake Huron's North Channel. Several years ago, we removed our icebox and replaced it with a fridge, but it's so small I'm always looking for recipes requiring few ingredients that require refrigeration — especially since supplies can often be three or four hours away in the North Channel.

I love shepherd's pie, and spent many years looking for a perfect recipe. The first few times I served it on First Look, the recipes were composites of many I have collected over the years. Unfortunately, none of them was as good as I'd hoped.

A couple of years ago, my daughter-in-law, Lida, shared this basic recipe, and I’ve used it many times since. I’ve tweaked it for a richer flavor, but it can be made milder using less Worcestershire sauce and substituting vegetable stock for the beef stock. Last summer was a miserable weather season in the North Channel and, along with a green salad and hot bread, this pie was delectable after cold and rainy sails — the ultimate comfort food! It’s so easy to make and clean up, I wanted to share it with other cruisers.

Here's a Super-Easy Version

by Lynda Morris Childress

When I'm really pressed for time, I make my own very simplified version of shepherd's pie. Aboard our Atlantic 70, Stressbuster, it's one of our favorite "homey" foods when we don't have guests aboard. You can use the recipe above, but substitute two large (12-ounce) cans of sweet corn (drained) for the peas and carrots, and omit the flour, stock and Worcestershire sauce. Just sauté onions and ground beef in oil, salt and pepper to taste, add corn, heat through and spread into a prepared pan. Top with mashed potatoes, dot with butter, sprinkle with a bit of paprika, and bake at 375 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes. Dinner's ready! (It's even good without the cheese!)

This article first appeared in the November 2014 issue of Cruising World.

Easy Shepherd's Pie Recipe

Easy Shepherd's Pie Recipe

Lynda Morris Childress