Shepherd’s Pie…it might be my all-time favorite comfort food, and I never get tired of making it. I am very particular about the kind of shepherd’s pie that I like, though, and that all dates back to my days right out of college, living with my dear friend C in the world’s smallest studio apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Ah, that apartment — it had exposed brick walls that got red-hot in the winter (why? we didn’t know and were afraid to ask), the world’s dinkiest, oldest refrigerator, and a reclusive next door neighbor named Bruce who was straight out of a Seinfeld episode. We made a combined salary of about $25,000 per year, and probably spent $20,000 of it on rent for this glorious pad, and so our nights out on the town were few and far between, and divided between what is STILL the best pizza place I have ever been to and this Irish joint called Finnegan’s Wake.
Finnegan’s was loud and dark and the floor was sticky and they served the best, cheapest, most delicious shepherd’s pie I’ve ever had. It was made with beef, not lamb, and featured peas and carrots in a thick tomato-ish sauce, all topped with mashed potatoes. (The picture above is before the addition of the potatoes, in case you are wondering. Because once you put the potatoes on top it would look like a picture of, well, potatoes.)
The Finnegan’s version spoiled me forever in terms of shepherd’s pie, and ever since I have been in search of a recipe that stood up to Finnegan’s. (Of course, it might have tasted so good because the rest of the time we were eating cold cereal, ramen noodles and macaroni and cheese out the box, but whatever.)
So this recipe has all those elements, and whenever I have leftover mashed potatoes I make it. By the way, I’m not sure exactly why it is called shepherd’s pie — maybe shepherds eat it? Maybe because – eek – it is usually made with lamb? At any rate, it’s also a good excuse for me to show you the one and only picture I have ever taken of a sheep.
And now that you have all this useful information, here’s the best part, which is the actual recipe.
Shepherd’s Pie, adapted from Everyday Food