This is my take on shepherd's pie. Instead of mince, I prefer to use beef short ribs. It complicates the cook, but the end result is so much more decadent. To make things easier, the beef and mash can be made separately ahead of time, and everything assembled once you're ready to put it in the oven.

Recipe By Robert Gonzal
 6 to 8 servings

  • Beef ribs
  • 8 boneless beef short ribs (about 900 g)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Handful fresh thyme sprigs
  • 6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 medium onion, unpeeled and cut in half
  • 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • Potato mash
  • 8 medium waxy yellow potatoes, chopped into 2 cm chunks
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • Finish
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup sweet peas
  • 1/2 cup sweet corn kernels
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch


  1. Add a splash of veg oil to a large pot on medium-high heat. Season the ribs with salt and pepper and sear them a few at a time in the pot, until they're evenly browned on all sides. Put all the ribs in the pot, along with the bay, thyme, garlic, onion and peppercorns. Add enough cold water so the meat's submerged about 2 cm below the surface. Turn the heat down to medium-low and let simmer for 2 hours. Remove the meat and set aside.
  2. Add the potatoes to a large pot of cold water. Add a good pinch of salt and turn the heat up to high. Let boil until the potatoes are fork tender.
  3. Drain the potatoes well and put them back in the pot. Add the cream cheese, milk, salt and white pepper. Mash the potatoes until no large chunks remain. You can also run the potatoes through a sieve if you want them extra silky Use a wooden spoon and stir the mash just until it's uniform. Don't overstir or it'll become gluey. If needed, add extra milk a splash at a time. The potatoes should be just slightly on the dry side. Check the seasoning and add extra salt and white pepper as needed
  4. Preheat your oven to 400 F. Add a splash of veg oil to a large pan on medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and fry 1 minute until fragrant. Add the carrots and thyme and fry another 2 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce and wine and let simmer until the liquid's absorbed, about 2 minutes.
  5. Using a pair of forks, shred the beef into bite-sized chunks. Add the beef to the pan along with the peas and corn and toss to combine. Add the beef stock. In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch with 1/4 cup water to make a slurry. Add it to the pan and stir until the sauce thickens.
  6. Pour the beef into a high-sided 20 cm x 30 cm baking tray. Give the tray a good rap against the counter to distribute the meat evenly. Add the potatoes and use a spatula to smooth it over the beef. Put the tray uncovered in the oven for 20 minutes. Turn up to high broil and bake an additional 2 minutes, or until the edges crisp and the top turns lightly golden.
  7. Remove the tray from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before cutting. Serve with freshly grated cheese (cheddar or parmesan both work) or, my preference, a sprinkle of sweet smoky paprika.

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