Seasoned ground venison and root vegetables are smothered in a spiked gravy sauce and topped with delicious mashed potatoes in this delicious shepherd’s pie.
I first found a shepherd’s pie recipe several years ago when I was looking for some different and creative ways to use up some ground venison in our freezer. I found a quick, 30 minute recipe and decided to give it a try.
Surprisingly, everyone loved it and it became a frequent addition to our regular menu. But we moved and for whatever reason I just kind of stopped making it.
Well, the time came again. We had some ground venison that I hadn’t used for venison summer sausage that needed used up and I decided to add shepherd’s pie to our meal rotation once again.
I’m so glad I did. I changed up the recipe quite a bit from the original, but what resulted was an amazing, flavorful dish topped with the best mashed potatoes ever (my personal favorite recipe).
What is Shepherd’s Pie
Well, first off, traditionally this recipe is not shepherd’s pie, but rather cottage pie. But for the sake of argument and the fact that most people use the names interchangeably… we’re going to say it is what it isn’t.
Shepherd’s pie is a meat pie made from a mixture of ground lamb (hence the word shepherd) and vegetables mixed with a gravy sauce and topped with mashed potatoes. It originated in Ireland.
Cottage pie, on the other hand, is the exact same thing, but utilizes ground meat other than lamb (typically beef, but in this case venison). It is also topped with mashed potatoes and originated in Britain.
Ingredients in Shepherd’s Pie
Ground Venison This recipe calls for venison, because we always have an abundance of it. If you do not, you can substitute ground lamb or mutton (for a traditional pie) or ground beef. You could also easily utilize ground, pork, chicken, or turkey if that’s what you have. Don’t be afraid to mix it up and even utilize a mixture of ground meats.
Vegetables the sky is the limit here, you can use a ready made mirepoix, you can mix and match, use what you have on hand or whatever works. I like to put onions, garlic, carrots, parsnips, and usually peas in mine. You could throw in celery if that’s your thing (I don’t keep celery on hand often). Or even add some canned (and drained) tomatoes.
Potatoes are a vegetable, right? Sure are! But you’re going to mash these! I highly recommend using yukon golds and if you just can’t get your hands on them, russets mash up pretty well for this recipe. I blend them with cream, cream cheese, butter, some seasoned salt and pepper and they pair beautifully in this pie.
Lard & Butter Since venison is so dry, I use lard or beef tallow to help add a little fat to the pan. You’ll need added fat in order to thicken your gravy with flour. If you don’t have lard or tallow, you can use butter. You’ll also use some butter in your potatoes.
Beef Stock or venison stock if you have it on hand. Homemade broth is the absolute best. It tastes amazing and has so many benefits. But, if you don’t have it, get the highest quality stock you can find.
Red Wine Cooking with wine always adds so much depth to any dish it’s added to. You can omit it if you absolutely have to, but I wouldn’t… the flavor it lends is just too much to pass up.
Worcestershire Sauce This is a must in this dish. I omitted it once, and I won’t make that mistake again. Did you know you can make your own? I had no idea! But you can find out how here.
Flour You’ve got to thicken that gravy up and flour is the best way to go about doing that. It only takes a couple Tablespoons. If you’re gluten free, you could try arrowroot powder.
Mushrooms I know, you love them or hate them. I enjoy some sliced button mushrooms in this dish, but they’re not a make or break item. You should give them a try, though.
How to Make Shepherd’s Pie
Make Your Meat Base
You’re going to begin by sautéing your veggies and garlic in lard, tallow or butter in an oven safe, deep skillet or dutch oven. You can continue cooking them until the onions are starting to become translucent.
After your onions are beginning to become translucent, you’ll add in your ground venison. Continue cooking this over medium-low until venison is browned.
Next, go ahead and add in your flour. If it looks like your pan is pretty dried out and you’re not seeing a lot of fat in the pan, you can add a bit more lard, tallow or butter before adding the flour. You should have about 2 tablespoons of fat and you’ll add another 2 tablespoons of flour.
After you’ve made a roux, you’ll want to add your beef broth and wine, slowly, stirring until thick between each addition. You now have your meat base.
Make Your Mashed Potatoes
While your meat base is cooking, you can boil your potatoes. Peel, cube into 1 inch pieces and boil in chicken broth for the best flavor (or use a cup or so of broth and top it off with water). You’ll boil these for about 10 minutes or until they’re nice and tender.
Once they’ve cooked, you can drain the water and allow the potatoes to sit until the steam is released. Once that happens, you can add them back to the pan.
Put the pan back over low heat and mash the potatoes up with a masher or mixer. Then, add in your cream cheese, butter, and heavy cream. Mix until well blended.
Lastly, mix in your pepper and seasoned salt. You now have the potatoes to place on top of your meat base.
Combine Meat Pie with Potatoes & Broil
All that is left is to put the potatoes on top of the meat base that’s in the pan. Smooth them over the top of the meat. Throw the pan in the oven on high broil for just a few minutes until the potatoes are beginning to slightly brown.
Throw some parsley on top for garnish and serve hot.
What to Serve With Shepherd’s Pie
How to Store, Freeze, & Reheat Shepherd’s Pie
This dish will keep in the refrigerator for about 3 days. It can be put into a 350˚F oven and heated until hot (about 30 minutes).
It also freezes fairly well. You could put it into a freezable casserole dish like this pyrex dish. You won’t need to broil it first. Simply allow it to cool, cover it tightly and put it in the freezer where it will keep for up to 3 months.
When you’re ready to prepare it, allow it to thaw in the refrigerator and put it in the oven at 350˚F for about 30-45 minutes or until warmed through. If you want the potatoes browned, you can turn the broiler on.
Also, if you’re afraid your potatoes will be a bit too dry being reheated, this reheat very well with just a couple dabs of butter on top before placing in the oven.
This easy shepherd's pie comes together easily for a quick weeknight meal with lean, ground venison as the base instead of lamb.
Shepherd's Pie Ingredients
- 2 Tablespoons Lard
- 1.5 Pounds Ground Venison
- 1 Cup Carrots (peeled & diced)
- 1/2 Cup Parsnip (peeled & diced)
- 1 Cup Onion (diced)
- 3 Cloves Garlic (minced)
- 1 Cup Mushrooms (sliced)
- 2 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
- 3/4 Cup Beef Stock
- 1/4 Cup Red Wine
Mashed Potato Ingredients
- 2.5 Pounds Potatoes (yukon gold or russet)
- 1/2 Cup Cream Cheese (softened)
- 1/4 Cup Heavy Cream
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 1/2 teaspoon Seasoned Salt
- 1/4 teaspoon Pepper
- Begin by preparing mashed potatoes. Bring them to a boil and boil about 10 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside to allow steam to escape.
- While potatoes are boiling, begin preparing meat filling. Melt lard (or butter) in a deep, oven safe skillet and add carrots, parsnip, onion, garlic, and any other veggies (except for any frozen or canned vegetables you care to add). Sauté over medium heat until onion becomes translucent.
- Add in the ground venison, season everything liberally with some salt and pepper. Continue cooking until venison is browned. Add in mushrooms. If adding any other frozen or canned vegetables, you'll add those now.
- Add 2 tablespoons of flour to the meat mixture to thicken up the fat. If there is little to no remaining fat in the pan, go ahead and add a bit more. On the flipside, if there's a lot, drain some of it off reserving about 2 tablespoons.
- Once you've made the roux in the meat mixture, slowly begin adding beef stock and red wine to the mixture stirring well and allowing the liquid to thicken between each addition.
- Remove mixture from heat. Prepare mashed potatoes by mashing them over low heat, adding cream cheese, cream, and butter and mashing well. Lastly stir in seasoned salt and pepper. Top meat mixture with mashed potatoes, smoothing over the top.
- Place skillet, uncovered in oven on high broil for about 5-10 minutes or until potatoes are lightly browned. Garnish dish with parsley. Serve hot.
You can substitute the venison for ground beef, ground lamb, or any ground meat.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 378 Total Fat: 17g Saturated Fat: 9g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 6g Cholesterol: 94mg Sodium: 244mg Carbohydrates: 33g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 5g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 23g
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