This Pastelón de papas is the Dominican version of Shepherd’s Pie and a staple on many a holiday dinners and family gatherings. I remember when I was growing up always asking if it was going to be on the menu because I loved it so much.
There is something to that ground beef and cheese layer in between the layers of mash potatoes that is just amazing to my taste buds. The beef is very well seasoned and super flavorful. You get the bits of peppers, onions and the tartness of the olives, boy! It really is the most flavorful shepherd’s pie you will ever have.
Ideas for variations
I also like that you can change up the seasoning to the beef. I have also added a bit of tomato sauce to it. That amps the flavor even more. But don’t add too much, 3 tbs is more than enough to give it that extra flavor.
Another variation I love is adding cauliflower to the potatoes and making it Cauliflower Potato Mash. This is how I normally make any kind of mash potatoes at home so I have adapted the recipe that way many times.
Even though our most popular is the beef filling, you can use any other filling you’d like. Ground turkey, ground pork can all be great substitutes for this pastelón. So fear not, just go for it!
Pastelón de Papas / Dominican Shepherd’s Pie
- Large spatula
- 5 lb bag russet potatoes
- 1 cup milk pour in little by little
- 1/4 cup butter or to taste
- 1 lb ground beef I prefer 85%
- 1 tbs adobo
- 1/2 tsp ground oregano
- 1 tsp chopped cilantro I love Gourmet Garden Semi-Dried Cilantro
- 2 tbs manzanilla or salad olives chopped or whole
- 1/2 red pepper chopped (or other color preferred)
- 1/2 yellow pepper chopped (or other color preferred)
- 1/2 small yellow onion chopped (red onions are a great substitute)
Cheese for filling and topping
- 1 8oz bag mozzarella cheese divided
Making the mash potatoes
- Peel potatoes and cut in 2 to 3 pieces.
- Place in a large pot in salted water (about 1 tsp) and bring to a boil.
- Once at a boil, bring down to medium heat and boil until the potatoes are tender. The whole process should be about 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, prep your peppers and onions for the beef filling.
- Once the potatoes are done, mash them in a big bowl.
- Add milk and butter and mix in well until the potatoes are smooth. Set aside.
Cooking the beef filling
- In a large skillet, over high heat, place the ground beef and begin to brown by stirring frequently.
- Once beef is cooked halfway, add the adobo, oregano, cilantro and olives. Mix well.
- Add peppers and onions. Mix well and cook until the peppers and onions are softened and the beef juices run clear and you see a small bit of oil at the bottom of the skillet. This whole process should be about 15 to 10 minutes.
Assembling the pastelón de papas/shepherd's pie
- Preheat oven to 350º degrees.
- In an 8×8 baking dish, place half of the mashed potatoes, spread and flatten them all around the bottom layer. I suggest you use a spatula.
- Add all the beef mixture, spread and flatten very gently over the first layer of potatoes.
- Add about 1/4 of the mozzarella cheese over the beef evenly.
- Spread the rest of the potatoes over the mozzarella. This will be a little harder step as the mozzarella and the beef may stick to the spatula. Use a spoon to help you as well. My video can give you an idea of how I do it.
- Top with remaining mozzarella.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until the top is nice and golden brown. Remember that ovens vary so it could be a bit quicker or a bit longer. So keep your eye on it.