Braised Beef Shepherd’s Pie

There’s just one way to make beef stew even better.

Top it with cheesy mashed potatoes and bake it in the oven! {Duh}

This basically gives you an up-leveled Shepherd’s pie situation:

  • Instead of the typical ground beef filling, you’ve got tender chunks of red wine braised beef and vegetables.
  • Rather than just a basic mashed potato topping, we’ve also added a layer of gooey cheese!

This decadent pot of goodness is a great way to feed a crowd. It’s super flavorful and rich, and serves up to 8 people at once.


The process for making shepherd’s pie is pretty straightforward:

  • Start by browning some meat and bacon to build smoky caramelized flavor.
  • Then soften some aromatic vegetables and herbs.
  • Stir in a little flour to help the stew thicken.
  • Then add the meat back to the pot along with red wine, beef broth, and seasonings.
  • Let the stew simmer for about 2 and a half hours, or until the meat can easily be shredded with a fork.
  • While the stew braises, make a huge batch of mashed potatoes for topping.
  • When the stew is done, shred the beef and stir in some frozen peas.
  • Top with the mashed potatoes & sprinkle with cheese.
  • Bake on high heat for a few minutes to melt the cheese and warm the potatoes, then scoop into bowls and enjoy.

Thankfully, most of the work for this meal is hands off. Once you’ve got the stew braising, you can get ready for guests, socialize with friends and family, etc.

You can even make the mashed potato topping the day before for even faster prep!

Get ready to add this recipe to the list of family favorites.

 

 

Print
Braised Beef Shepherd's Pie
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
3 hr 40 mins
Total Time
4 hr
 
Servings: 8
Ingredients
  • splash of grapeseed oil
  • 2 thick slices of bacon, diced
  • 2 3/4 pounds boneless chuck roast, cut into 2 to 3 inch pieces, extra fat discarded
  • kosher salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour (or gluten free flour, if desired)
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 15 oz can of beef broth
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen green peas
  • 3/4 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
For the Mashed Potatoes:
  • 3 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup half and half
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Place a large enameled cast iron dutch oven on the stove. Add a tiny splash of grapeseed oil and warm over medium high heat. Add the diced bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon bits are nicely browned and crispy. Turn off the heat and use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon bits to a paper towel lined plate. Keep the drippings in the dutch oven.

  2. Season the beef liberally with kosher salt and ground black pepper. Put the dutch oven back on the stove over high heat. When the bacon fat is shimmering, add the beef and brown well on all sides, turning the beef when it releases easily in the pan and develops a dark brown crust. Brown well on all sides. Don't skimp on this step. You are building the flavor here!

  3. When the beef is browned on all sides, remove it from the pan and set aside on a plate. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, carrot, and celery to the dutch oven. Saute until softened, about 8 minutes.

  4. When the vegetables are soft, add the garlic, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf and stir for 1 minute, until fragrant.

  5. Add the dry sherry, Worcestershire sauce, and tomato paste and stir to combine. Add the reserved beef and bacon to the dutch oven. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover the dutch oven with the lid, but keep it just slightly ajar. Simmer for 2 and a half hours, stirring every 30 minutes or so, or until the beef is tender and easy to shred with a fork.

  6. When there is an hour left on the stew, start working on the mashed potato topping. 

  7. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the peeled potatoes. Boil for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are easily pierced with a knife. Drain the potatoes and return to the empty pot. Add the butter and 1/2 cup of the half and half. Use a potato masher to mash until smooth. Add 1/4 cup more of the half and half if the potatoes are dry, then season liberally with kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste. Set aside to cool slightly while you wait for the rest of the stew to finish cooking.

  8. When the stew is done cooking and the beef is tender, turn the heat off on the stove and preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Use two forks to shred the beef directly in the dutch oven. Add in the frozen peas and stir to combine. 

  9. Carefully scoop the mashed potatoes over the top of the stew, spreading evenly with a spatula or back of a spoon. Be sure to spread them all the way to the edges of the dutch oven. Creating a good seal on the edges with the mashed potatoes will help prevent the stew from bubbling over. 

  10. Finally, sprinkle the shredded Mozzarella and cheddar cheeses over the top of the mashed potatoes. When the oven is preheated, put the dutch oven inside the oven and bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes or so, until the mashed potatoes are warmed and the cheese topping is melted. 

  11. Remove from the oven and let rest for at least 15 minute before serving. When ready to serve, scoop the stew with the mashed potato topping into individual serving bowls and enjoy!

 

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Pasta all’Amatriciana with Pancetta

Pasta all’Amatriciana is a classic Roman dish, featuring a robust, slightly spicy tomato sauce with cured pork jowl, known as guanciale (pronounced gwan-chee-all-eh).

I honestly accidentally ordered this item at a restaurant in Rome..

I was debating between the pasta all’Amatriciana and the eggplant parmesan, and had fully decided on the eggplant parm.


But when the waiter came to take my order… all’Amatriciana popped out of my mouth!!

Oops!

But OMG, what a happy mistake it was.

The rigatoni came out piping hot, thickly coated in a spicy silky tomato sauce with nice chunky pieces of golden guanciale.

Basically, it was instantly my new favorite pasta.

And so simple, too!

A true testament to keeping things basic and letting the ingredients shine.

PS- If you’re ever in Rome, the restaurant I’m talking about is La Tavernaccia in the Trastavere region. It’s a little out of the way, but so so so worth it.

We also ordered the roasted suckling pig & the lardo & honey bruschetta, and were blown away by all of it!

And how adorable is it that they hand-write their menus each day 🙂 Thankfully, they spoke English & even had a hand written English version of the menu.

Plus, it’s nice to know you’re supporting a family run restaurant, rather than one of a million lackluster tourist traps.

So, here we are, nearly 9 months later, and I’ve just now gotten around to recreating that magical dish.

But this time, I went with bucatini, rather than rigatoni, because I wanted those twirlable, twistable noodles that are so fun to eat.

And of course, none of the stores near me sell guanciale (boooo), so I swapped in pancetta instead.

Honestly, it was still just as delicious!

All’Amatriciana is super simple to make.

It’s just pancetta, onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, white wine, and tomatoes, topped with high quality grated romano cheese.

And please, don’t buy crappy cheap tomatoes for this dish. It won’t turn out well.

I used Cento brand crushed tomatoes (affiliate link), which I love, because they are not watery at all, which = tons of flavor in every bite and a wonderfully thick sauce.

This pasta is a loving act of patience for such a simple dish, but it still comes together in about an hour from start to finish.

So worth it!

Serve with Kale Salad with Cranberries and Pepitas and get ready for a FABULOUS meal.

 

5 from 3 votes
Print
Pasta all'Amatriciana with Pancetta
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
50 mins
Total Time
1 hrs
 
Servings: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces diced pancetta
  • 1 yellow onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 small bottle chardonnay (187 mL)
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes (preferably Cento brand)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound dried bucatini pasta
  • 1 cup grated Romano cheese, for serving
  • 1/2 cup minced parsley, for serving
Instructions
  1. Add the olive oil to a large nonstick saute pan, and warm over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta, and cook, stirring frequently, for about 6 minutes, until golden brown all over. 

  2. Turn off the heat, and use a slotted spoon to remove the pancetta from the pan and onto a plate to cool and crisp. 

  3. Keep the drippings in the pan, and warm over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring often, for another 6 minutes or so, until the onions are tender and just starting to turn golden. If the garlic seems to be cooking too fast or on the verge of burning, turn down the heat as needed. 

  4. When the onions are done, add the chardonnay and cook for two minutes to let some of the wine cook off. 

  5. Add the pancetta and any accumulated juice back to the pan. Stir to combine with the wine and onion mixture. 

  6. Next, add the crushed tomatoes, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Stir well to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover, and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so to prevent burning or sticking. 

  7. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When there's about 10 minutes left on the pasta sauce, add the bucatini to the large pot of boiling water and cook according to package directions until just al dente, about 9 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of cooking water before draining, then drain the pasta. 

  8. Add the pasta to to pan with the tomato sauce, and toss to coat. Add 1/2 cup of the cooking water to thin the sauce a bit, and continue to toss the pasta to coat. Increase the heat to medium, and cook for a few more minutes, tossing the noodles in the sause, letting it thicken and nicely coat each noodle. 

  9. Once the sauce is thick and evenly coating the pasta, turn off the heat and serve the pasta into bowls. Top generously with grated Romano cheese, freshly cracked salt and pepper, and a sprinkle of fresh parsley. 

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Kale Salad with Cranberries and Pepitas

Kale Salad with Cranberries and Pepitas

Kale Salad with Cranberries and Pepitas

Glorious, glorious kale salad.

I know, it’s been a “thing” for years now, but I honestly can’t get enough!

This is the… fourth… kale salad recipe on the blog, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.


Easy Kale Salad with Cranberries and Pepitas

The twist on this kale salad is the way the tender leaves are cut.

Rather than just tearing them up into pieces, the leaves are sliced cross-wise into thin strips, kind of like a thick chiffonade.

This makes the salad ultra tender and easy to eat.

Kale Salad Recipe with Cranberries, Pepitas, and Garlic Breadcrumbs

You know what’s even easier?

You don’t have to whisk a dressing for this salad!

Simply drizzle with fresh lemon juice & olive oil, and call it a day.

The extra pops of flavor come from sweet-tart dried cranberries, salty pepitas, savory Parmesan cheese, and homemade buttery garlic breadcrumbs.

The flavor combos are amazing.

This kale salad with cranberries and pepitas is definitely going on my Thanksgiving menu this year!

Kale Salad with Cranberries and Pepitas Recipe

 

5 from 1 vote
Kale Salad with Cranberries and Pepitas
Print
Kale Salad with Cranberries and Pepitas
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 
Servings: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 bunches lacinato kale, washed, stems removed, leaves cut crosswise into thin strips
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly ground sourdough breadcrumbs made by pulsing sourdough sandwich bread in a mini food processor
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shaved parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries (without sulfites)
  • 3/4 cup roasted salted pepitas
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Add the thinly sliced kale to a large salad bowl and set aside. 

  2. Next, add the butter to a small nonstick skillet and warm over medium heat until melted. Add the fresh breadcrumbs, and cook, stirring frequently with a spatula, until the breadcrumbs are nice and golden brown and starting to crisp up. When fully golden and crisp, turn off the heat and stir in the garlic powder and salt. Then remove from the pan to a large plate to cool in one flat layer. 

  3. While the breadcrumbs cool, add the cheese, cranberries, and pepitas to the kale. Pour the juice of 1 lemon over the top, and drizzle the salad liberally with extra virgin olive oil. Toss well to combine. 

  4. When the breadcrumbs are cooled, sprinkle them over the salad and toss again to combine. Serve right away. 

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