Stretched & Enhanced ❉ Beef & Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie

Beef & Mushroom Shepherd's Pie | © Urban Cottage Life.com

Those of you who only stop by for the photographs will be disappointed in today’s post. On the other hand, I donn’t imagine anyone visits the Urban Cottage just for the pictures, so maybe we’ll be alright.

I made this special shepherd’s pie for a family dinner last Sunday, and only had a chance to get a couple of very fast pictures on my phone. Normally I’d take some photos the next day, but I sent all the leftovers home with my daughter. So, you’ll just have to take my word for it that a big piece of this pie looked pretty good sitting on my dinner plate.

So, about that stretching and enhancing business in the title … I decided to use the “blend and extend” method championed by Mushrooms Canada and Make It Ontario Beef for this dish. What that means is that I augmented the beef in this recipe with an equal weight of mushrooms. With ground beef at close to $7 a pound and my need to make a double recipe, substituting mushrooms for half the beef at about half the price helped stretch my budget. Adding mushrooms also helped enhance the nutritional value of this recipe, since they contain B complex vitamins, minerals, fibre and Vitamin D (in fact, they’re the only vegetable that naturally contains Vitamin D — your cool factoid of the day).

It turns out that my daughter is mushroom averse*, but because I had minced them so finely (matching the small bits of ground beef) they weren’t an issue for her at all. Plus, I used mildly-flavoured white mushrooms, and they blended right in with the other flavours. In fact, had I not casually mentioned the mushrooms just before dinner, I don’t think she would have noticed them at all. As it was, she had to get past the idea of them and then quite enjoyed her meal.

*In my own defence I’d just like to say I didn’t remember that this daughter doesn’t like mushrooms. With three kids who each have their own favourites and dislikes, I simply can’t keep track of it all! I’m glad I didn’t remember, because if I had I wouldn’t have made this recipe and it turns out we all enjoyed it.

Beef & Mushroom Shepherd's Pie | © Urban Cottage Life.com

This was such a homey, flavourful meal, and because the filling contained not just mushrooms but a mix of carrots, corn, peas and lima beans, I served only a crisp salad alongside it. Sunday night simplicity and leftovers for a busy family to enjoy during the week!

Beef & Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie

Beef & Mushroom Shepherd's Pie

  • Servings: 4-6
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Beef & Mushroom Shepherd's Pie | © Urban Cottage Life.comPreheat oven to 350℉. Butter or oil a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and set aside. Having leftover mashed potatoes on hand would make this recipe even quicker to put together, but as it is, there’s only about 20 or so minutes of active preparation time. 

© Urban Cottage Life.com

  • 4 large potatoes, peeled
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • milk, to make a creamy but fairly thick mash

I’m going to take it for granted that you pretty much know how to make mashed potatoes: cook until tender, drain (reserving 1 cup of liquid), add salt, pepper, and butter, then mash until the potatoes are all broken up. Add a good splash of milk; mash and stir. Repeat until the desired creaminess is reached. Sorry, I just do this by look and feel, which means I didn’t measure! I cook the potatoes while I’m prepping the ingredients for the shepherd’s pie base, and mash them while the mixture is cooking down.

  • 1 lb white mushrooms, wiped and stems trimmed
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 cup beef broth from concentrate (I used the reserved potato water to make it, but plain will do)
  • 1-1/2 to 2 tsp kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups frozen mixed corn/peas/carrots/beans/lima beans or a similar mix
  • 1 tbsp cold butter

Using a food processor, chop the mushrooms until minced (or more coarsely if you prefer the texture). Remove the mushrooms to a bowl, then process the onions and garlic until finely chopped.

Put the ground beef into a large skillet with a bit of cold water, and fry over medium high heat turning and stirring frequently until evenly browned. Add the onion and garlic mixture to the beef and cook until the aromatics are translucent. Add the salt, pepper and tomato paste, stir well to incorporate, and cook for a couple of minutes to allow the flavour of the tomato paste to mellow.

Add the mushrooms and stir well. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms have shrunk down and released their juices. When most of the mushroom liquid has evaporated, add the soy sauce and the beef broth. Stir in the vegetables, and continue to cook with the lid off the skillet until the mixture is still juicy but not too runny. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

To assemble, spread the meat mixture in the prepared baking dish. Dollop the mashed potatoes evenly around the dish and smooth with a spatula. If you’re feeling artistic, use the tines of a fork to make a pattern in the potatoes. Sprinkle thin slivers of cold butter over the top of the potatoes, and run a sprinkling of freshly ground pepper down the middle to garnish.

Baked in the pre-heated oven for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the mixture is thoroughly heated through and the potatoes are turning golden brown.

10 comments

  1. Every time I come upon a recipe for shepherds pie, I wonder why I’ve not made one. I’ve enjoyed them in restaurants and at friends’s homes. Your recipe does sound like a good one, too. No matter the reason, I like the idea of using a little less meat in your recipe.It would make the dish a little lighter and I do love my mushrooms. You reminded me that mom always said that we kids would have to eat what she served. She wasn’t about to make us each separate meals.Then along came the grandkids. Mom would cook each little one whatever that child wanted while my siblings and I sat there with our mouths open, wondering what alien creature had kidnapped our Mom. 🙂

    • How I laughed when I read that last line! I know exactly what happened to your Mom — grandparenting seems to turn us into softies. My Dad, bless his heart, felt it was his mission to give his grandchildren as much chocolate and ice cream as he could. While I think this shepherd’s pie would be another great treat to share, the kids probably would prefer what Petje had to offer!

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