This post is sponsored by Paderno Kitchenware. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.
Shepherd’s pie is a favorite meal in our house. Typically a casserole of meat, vegetables, and gravy topped with mashed potatoes, it’s comfort food at its finest. It’s also a dish that can take on any number of variations, depending on your mood and what’s in the fridge. For this version, I decided to go decadent by replacing the typical ground meat filling with a beef rib stew simmered in the Paderno 6-quart Slow Cooker.
Part of the magic of a slow cooker is its ability to transform inexpensive but tough cuts of meat into melt-in-your-mouth meals. Here we take full advantage of low-and-slow cooking by simmering beef ribs overnight until the meat literally falls off the bone. The simmering liquid is reduced to a luscious gravy, and the whole stew is topped off with a thick layer of Yukon Gold mash. Delicious!
A few notes:
- You can easily make the stew portion several days in advance. After slow-cooking the meat, simply cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate until needed. When you’re ready to assemble the shepherd’s pie, skim the fat solids off the top and rewarm in the slow cooker on low for 1-2 hours before proceeding.
- Since the stew is quite rich, I opted to make the mashed potatoes a little leaner by using the potato cooking water instead of a dairy product. If you prefer a more decadent mash, feel free to substitute milk/cream/sour cream.
- Customize the stew with whatever vegetables you like or have on hand! Mushrooms and peas would be great additions (I’d add them in the last hour of cooking, or during the reheat if you make the stew ahead of time). You can also sub the apple juice for red wine or beer for a different flavor.
Beef Rib Shepherd’s Pie
For the slow cooker beef ribs:
- 5 lbs bone-in beef ribs, cut into single-bone portions
- 1 large onion, diced
- Half a head of garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 carrots, shredded
- 1 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes (or substitute fresh tomatoes)
- 3 dried bay leaves
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 2 Tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 c apple juice
- Salt and pepper
- 75g (1/3 c) unsalted butter
- 40g (1/3 c) all purpose flour
For the mashed potatoes:
- 2 lbs yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 in. pieces
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chopped chives or scallion greens
For the slow cooker short ribs:
- Season beef ribs generously with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.
- Grill or sear beef ribs on all sides. Meanwhile, in a large pot, sweat onion, garlic, and carrots in olive oil over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. Add salt, pepper, bay leaf, and thyme for the last couple of minutes.
- Deglaze pan with apple juice. Add tomatoes, dijon, and worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine, and bring to a low simmer. Once simmering, remove from heat and set aside.
- Once finished grilling/searing ribs, transfer ribs to slow cooker, assembling in an even layer. Pour vegetable and liquid mixture over ribs. Add water so the liquid level falls just below the top of the beef.
- Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or until the meat is fork-tender and falls off the bones easily. (At this point you can refrigerate the stew for several days if needed; skim the fat and reheat on low for 1-2 hours when ready to proceed.)
- When ready to assemble and bake the shepherd’s pie, remove the bones and bay leaves from the slow cooker and discard. Strain the liquid into a large glass measuring cup. Transfer stew solids to an oven safe pan (I used the Paderno Classic Non-Stick Fry Pan) or casserole dish. Use two forks to shred any large pieces of meat.
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add flour and whisk to combine. Gradually add the reserved liquid, whisking constantly. Once all the liquid is added, raise heat to medium and bring to a simmer. Continue cooking, whisking occasionally, until the gravy is thickened and reduced by about 1/3 (about 10-15 minutes). Remove from heat. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Add enough gravy to nearly cover the meat and vegetables (reserve the rest of the gravy for serving).
For the mashed potatoes:
- Place the potato pieces in a large pot and add cold water to cover by about an inch. Add several generous pinches of salt.
- Bring to a simmer, uncovered, over medium heat. Once the water is simmering, turn heat down to medium low and continue simmering until the potatoes are fork-tender (10-15 minutes).
- Drain the potatoes, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking water.
- Return the potatoes to the pot over low heat. Add the butter. Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes, adding the reserved water as needed to reach desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Preheat oven to 425F with a rack in the middle.
- Spread the mashed potatoes on top of the filling and score with the tines of a fork for texture, if desired.
- Place pan on a sheet pan to catch any drips and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the potatoes are lightly browned and the edges of the filling are bubbling. Garnish with chopped chives or scallions, if desired. Serve with reserved gravy.