JJ’s Shepherd’s Pie

This recipe comes to us via a family friend, J.J. On chilly evenings, he makes his way to the kitchen, turns his back, moves around for a half hour or so and voilà: one of the most delicious and comforting meals I know. I like those “all in one” meals—meat, starch, and vegetable all together so you don’t have to feel guilty for not making a salad. I called him and pinned him down to the following recipe, which I made that very night. The beef can be replaced with ground lamb or ground turkey; the type of cheese can also change according to taste.


4 small potatoes

6 tablespoons butter, divided

1/2 cup half-and-half

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup chopped onions

1/2 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped carrots

2 cloves of chopped garlic

1 pound ground beef

1 cup frozen peas

1 1/2 cups grated mild cheddar cheese


  1. Make mashed potatoes. Peel the potatoes and chop them in fourths. Boil until soft. Drain the potatoes well, then move them to a mixing bowl. Add 4 tablespoons butter and let it melt. Using a mixer, beat the butter and potato mix, adding half and half gradually. Add salt and pepper to taste. Beat until smooth. Set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter and sauté onion, celery and carrots until soft.
  3. Add the beef, garlic, and frozen peas. Cook until the beef is no longer red.
  4. Spread the beef mixture across the bottom of a casserole dish. Spread the mashed potatoes in a second layer over the beef mixture.
  5. Spread grated cheese over the top of the mashed potatoes.
  6. Cover with foil and cook at °350 for 45 minutes.
  7. Put under the broiler for 5 minutes if you like crispy cheese.


This delicious treat is great on a cold winter night.

This delicious treat is great on a cold winter night.


  1. Veronica   •  

    Wow! This recipe is one of the best I’ve ever tried–sumptuous–and the nice mix of vegetables makes it colorful. Every time I serve this people just go wild. Thanks, Ursula.

  2. Robin   •  

    Add a bay leaf when you add the meat; remove it before putting everything together.

  3. Soledad Ford   •  

    This is one for the books. I always look up this recipe up around this time of year, when it’s getting cold in Mobile and it’s advisable to have a dish that feeds many for those days ahead that AREN’T Thanksgiving or Christmas. I don’t know who JJ is, but 5 stars! Btw, this freezes beautifully and can be adjusted without doing sophisticated math for a larger party. Regardless of how many I’m cooking for, I add more than called for of carrots, peas, and celery (and cheese). I like medium cheddar–not mild. The recipe doesn’t specify but in this kind of dish, I always use salted butter. Enjoy!

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