Paula’s dad and his wife Donna came over for dinner this evening. I have been trying out recipes from Cooks Illustrated now that I have more time on my hands. Tonight I made their updated shepherd’s pie recipe. It was quite tasty….


  • 1 1/2 pounds of 93% ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 2 teaspoons of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 2 1/2 pounds of potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces (They call for russet but I used Yukon Gold…)
  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 8 scallions
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 4 ounces of white mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of Madeira or ruby port
  • 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups of beef broth
  • 2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons of cornstarch

Toss the ground beef with the 2 tablespoons of water, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper, and baking soda and let it sit for 20 minutes.

While the meat sits, place prepare the potatoes and place in a medium saucepan. Add water to cover along with 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until you can pierce the potatoes with a fork. Drain the potatoes and return to pot. Allow any surface moisture to evaporate. Mash the potatoes. Stir in the melted butter. Whisk the egg yolk and milk in a small bowl and then stir into the potatoes. Stir in the scallion greens and season with salt and pepper. Set aside for the time being.

Heat the oil in a broiler safe skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper. Cook, stirring from time to time, until the vegetables are just starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and garlic. Cook for another minute. Add the Madeira or port, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in the flour and cook for another minute. Add the the broth, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, bay leaf and carrots. Bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce heat and add the meat in 2-inch chunks. Cover and cook until beef is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Stir the cornstarch and 2 teaspoons of water in a small bowl and then stir it into the beef mixture and continue simmering for another 30 seconds. Remove the thyme and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Adjust the oven rack so that it is 5 inches from the broiler element. Heat the broiler. Place the mashed potatoes over the filling so that they cover the entire filling. Smooth the potatoes with a spoon and then the tines of a fork to make ridges on the surface. Place the skillet on a rimmed baking sheet and broil until the potatoes are golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

I served the shepherd’s pie with some roasted green beans. It was a good side dish to enjoy with this hearty meal. I think that everyone enjoyed it since there was very little left when dinner was over.