Buttery, creamy mashed potatoes tend to be the star of any dinner table at which they make an appearance. When those mashed potatoes are concealing a hearty, meaty, deeply flavorful filling, as they are in this week’s classic casserole, Shepherd’s Pie, they are even better.

While Shepherd’s Pie can take on many forms, it traditionally starts with ground red meat, most often lamb (when only ground beef is used, the dish is often referred to as Cottage Pie), which is cooked in a gravy with onions, carrots and peas and topped with a layer of mashed potatoes, before being baked until golden and bubbly.

Parsnips don’t typically make an appearance in this iconic meat and potatoes dish, but I like to add them to the mashed potato topping. Their slightly sweet, peppery flavor adds an extra dimension to the potatoes and pairs beautifully with the savory filling. Once you taste how good they are in this dish, you may never want to make mashed potatoes again without them.

My favorite version of this dish utilizes a combination of lamb and beef. Lamb, on its own, gives this dish a more assertive flavor. That’s not a bad thing for lamb lovers, but can be a lot for those who don’t enjoy its gaminess. Ground lamb can be fatty, so I prefer to drain all the excess fat from the skillet after the meat has been browned.

The filling includes carrots, peas, onions and beef broth, which creates a lovely gravy. For an extra depth of savoriness, I like to add a touch of Worcestershire sauce to the gravy, as I often do to beef gravies.

You don’t have to be a shepherd to appreciate this comforting, warming, family-friendly dish.


Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at meredithdeeds@gmail.com. Follow her on Instagram ­at @meredithdeeds.