Coleman's also makes a shepherd's pie seasoning mix that is really good mixed with just meat, water and veggies but this is my preferred way of making it and the only way I'll make it if sharing with others. If my husband is on the road, I'll prepare this without the salt (adding at table), Worcestershire sauce, nutmeg, or onion, with greatly just a a touch of home-grown fresh garlic and using fresh thyme, rosemary, and sage, and lower fat unsweetened yogurt in place of the cream cheese and will share with Abby Lab. She LOVES it and the herbs are good for her as are peas and carrots (onions are highly toxic for dogs and nutmeg is not a safe spice for them either). A Canine version is at the bottom of the post!
The difference between Shepherd and Cottage pie is the choice of meat, Shepherd's pie is traditionally made with lamb which I don't eat. I've also made a "Shepherdless" version using cooked lentils and veggie stock in place of the meat and beef stock with a sweet potato mash made without dairy (almond milk and vegan buttery spread) and it's wonderful as well.
Cottage Pie (human version)
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
1/2 tsp, minced garlic
1/4 cup half-and-half
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 tsp. teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
dash of nutmeg
1/4 of a regular sized block of cream cheese (about 2 ounces)
1 egg yolk
Peel and cut the potatoes into 1 to 2-inch pieces. Add to a pan of water over medium, covering potatoes with water. Cook over medium for 30 minutes or until fork tender. Drain in a colander and add garlic.
In a microwave-safe bowl, nuke butter and cream cheese until softened, add half and half and microwave another 15-30 seconds, until warm. Mix into potatoes and beat with a hand mixer until smooth and creamy, adding a bit more half-and-half if the mixture is too dry. Stir in the egg yolk and set aside.
For the meat filling, saute in 2 Tablespoons oil until onions are softened and meat is cooked through.
1 and 1/2 pound ground meat or equivalent of veggie "beef" crumbles
1/2 extra large sweet onion chopped
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons minced garlic (or equivalent of two cloves)
1 and 1/2 pounds ground meat
Add 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce as it finishes cooking
Drain off any extra grease and add :
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Toss meat with:
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
and cook for a minute.
Is it ready yet Mom? It's food o-clock!
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 cup beef stock
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
pinch or two of crushed red pepper
1 and 1/2 cups mixed frozen veggies (I used peas and carrots, corn and green beans are also good).
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and cover and simmer 10-12 minutes until the sauce is thickened slightly and the veggies are starting to soften (they will continue cooking in the oven.).
Note: You can use canned veggies, just drain and add them to the cooked meat and gravy mixture right before placing in baking dish.
Place meat mixture in an 11 x 7 baking dish and top with mashed potatoes, smoothing with a spatula and bringing potatoes up over the lip of dish so the gravy doesn't bubble up around the edges and cover up the potatoes.
Bake at 375 F for 30 minutes, topping with 3/4 to 1 cup smoked cheddar 10-15 minutes before done if you like the cheese really soft, or putting on before placing in the oven, which crisps up the cheese around the edges - a personal choice.
Put a cookie sheet on the shelf below in case it does bubble a bit over the edge.
Let sit 5 minutes and enjoy with a nice pint of ale. or beverage of choice. Serves 6-8.
I've got my Elvis lip curl going
'cuz you're taking too long!
Cottage Pie - Canine Version: (no exceptions)
1. NO Onions which are deadly dangerous for your dog - replace with CELERY which is GOOD for dogs.
2. Cut down on the garlic by at least half or OMIT for smaller dogs.
Note: Do NOT feed your dog jarred garlic. Use only FRESH, raw garlic that is in the husk until you prepare. Make sure it's produced in the United states or home grown. Chinese garlic which is exported tests positive for unsafe levels of arsenic, heavy metals, and chlorine. Don't risk your dog's health by using fresh garlic from an unknown producer or jarred garlic.
3. NO Salt OR pepper (some dogs can handle a bit of pepper but salt is TOXIC)
4. NO Worcestershire sauce (high in salt which is TOXIC for canines)
5. NO Nutmeg (not safe for dogs)
6. Use fresh thyme, rosemary, and sage and double the amount of what is listed for dried herbs All three are pet-safe and rosemary and thyme have noted health benefits for dogs.
7. Low-fat plain yogurt in place of Cream Cheese to reduce fat which can upset dog's tummy and use less cheese as topping if your dog is sensitive to fat. (You could have buttered a tank and Barkley would have eaten it.)