March and April bring in the last of  Michiana’s cold weather. We are still thinking of sitting by the fire, keeping warm and filling our bellies with comfort food.

Shepherd’s pie is a classic dish that I updated with a Michigan twist — ground beef and bacon filling with a thick, tomato-based gravy infused with the Beer of the Year, Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, then topped with cheesy mashed potatoes.

Shepherd’s Pie

Servings: 6


Ground Beef and Bacon Filling

16 ounces bacon, cooked and crumbled (reserve 1 tbs bacon grease)

1 pound ground beef (80/20)

2 stalks carrots, peeled and diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbs flour

6 ounces tomato paste

12 ounces Two Hearted Ale

½ cup beef broth

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

¼ tsp thyme

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

½ tsp ground mustard

2 tsp sugar

Cheesy Mashed Potato Topping

3 pounds potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 tbs unsalted butter

1 tbs cream cheese

¼ cup milk

1 tsp parsley

1 tsp garlic powder

½ cup cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Ground Beef and Bacon Filling

In a well-seasoned cast iron pan* cook bacon to your liking. Remove the bacon and reserve 1 tbs of the grease in the pan.

Add ground beef, carrots, celery, garlic and onions to the pan. 

Cook the ground beef all the way through until the vegetables are soft and onions are translucent. 

Place the bacon back into the pan. 

Add the flour o the beef mixture.  Stir in the beer, tomato paste, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, and seasonings.  Turn off heat.

Cheesy Mashed Potato Topping

Peel, wash and cube the potatoes. Add the potatoes and enough water to cover the tops to a large pot. Add salt. Boil for 20 minutes.

Once potatoes are fork tender, remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Add milk, butter, cream cheese, salt, parsley, garlic powder, cheddar cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.

Beat with mixer until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes.

Top the beef mixture with the potatoes.  Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes.

Serve immediately.

*It is not advised to cook tomato-based dishes in a cast iron pan that is not well seasoned. If you do not have a cast iron pan, cook ingredients separately then bake in a greased casserole dish.