Braised Beef Shepherd’s Pie

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.

 

Pure Comfort Food - Braised Beef Shepherd's Pie

 

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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
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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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Baked Turkey Meatballs

Baked Turkey Meatball Recipe - easy & packed with fresh herbs!

Baked Turkey Meatball Recipe - easy & packed with fresh herbs!

What’s your favorite way to cook meatballs?

I was completely torn between baked & pan fried for awhile…. until I finally did a head to head test.

I made one batch of meatballs, and pan fried one half, and baked the other.

The result?


Much to my surprise, I actually preferred them baked!

While the pan fried meatballs did get a nice crispy exterior, they totally lost their round shape.

Plus, it was really annoying to try and rotate all the balls in the pan to try & get them crispy on all sides.

WAY too much work for just a little payoff.

The baked meatballs, however, were SO easy (like just put them in the oven & wait 20 minutes).

I brushed them with a little olive oil, so they were still nice & golden on the outside and retained their beautiful round shape.

MUCH more attractive when set out for appetizers or placed on top of a pile of spaghetti 🙂

Baked Turkey Meatball Recipe - Just brush with olive oil & pop in the oven for 20 minutes

Recently, I’ve really been digging TURKEY meatballs (instead of beef or pork).

They have a lighter texture, and I love how the cleaner taste of the turkey meat allows the other flavors in the meatballs to shine through (which is key, since I add tons of herbs to my meatball mixture).

But anyways, these turkey meatballs are super easy to make.

Just mix everything together with you hands in a large bowl, shape into meatballs, brush with olive oil, and bake for about 20 minutes.

THAT’S IT!

And while they bake, you can boil some pasta or set out some marinara for dipping.

Love easy dinners like this.

Baked Turkey Meatball Recipe - Serve over pasta or dip in marinara for an appetizer

 

Baked Turkey Meatball Recipe - easy & packed with fresh herbs!
Print
Baked Turkey Meatballs
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 
Servings: 16 meatballs
Ingredients
  • 20 oz ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • olive oil, for cooking
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 

  2. Meanwhile, add the ground turkey, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, basil, parsley, milk, tomato paste, salt, pepper, egg, garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes to a large mixing bowl. Mix together with your hands until well combined.

  3. Wash your hands very well with warm soapy water, then get out a rimmed baking sheet.

  4. Roll the meatballs into 1 1/2 inch balls (roughly 16 total), and place on the baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes until lightly golden brown.

  5. When done, remove from the oven and enjoy! The meatballs are great on their own, or over spaghetti, or dipped in marinara as an appetizer. They even make wonderful meatball subs for lunch the next day.

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