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Gluten-free Wine-Braised Beef Shepherd’s Pie is hearty and comforting. Full of delicious flavors! 


Hey gang, how goes it? How was your weekend?!

I totally forgot that I had fun plans lined up for Saturday night – an Iowa food blogger dinner at Hotel Pattee in Perry, IA, about 35 minutes away from home.


Mention Hotel Pattee to just about anyone in Iowa and chances are their ears will perk up. It’s a gorgeous, 40-room historic hotel that includes a handful of themed rooms – Japanese Room, 1913 Farmhouse Room, Amana Colonies Room, etc – and a bowling ally in the basement. That’s right. Ooo, oo, plus a spa! The vibe is such that you step into this hotel and feel like you’ve left the streets of small town Perry, IA and entered a swank, historic Chicago hotel. So very cool.



The hotel has changed owners a few times over the past decade, and was recently re-opened by Jay Hartz who started a 10-person “Chef’s Table” dinner on the back side of a double-sided stone fireplace in the lobby. The fire that anchored one end of the long, craftsman-style table was flickering on Saturday night and set a deliciously cozy tone.


10 food bloggers were invited to attend the Chef’s Table dinner which features 5 courses for $50/person (an INSANE value,) and even though a few had to cancel last minute, we ended up with a wonderful group: Kelli from The Sustainable Couple, Wini from Chez Bonne Femme, Sheryl from Eat, Play, Love Des Moines, Ally from Ally’s Sweet and Savory Eats, and Matt and Lissah from Iowa Food Blog


The hotel’s head chef, Chris Caes, led the meal and confessed that he was nervous to cook for us food bloggers. Hey – feed us, and we’re yours! Chef Chris planned the entire menu especially for our group, as he does for anyone who books the table for the evening.


Of the five courses Chef served us, the highlights for me included the second course which was his take on a BLT. Crispy pork belly served with roasted-marinated tomatoes on endive, with an avocado-Greek yogurt sauce. HEAVEN! Marinated-roasted tomatoes are totally happening this summer.


The crispy pork belly was a 2-bite delight. I so wish I could have shared this plate with Ben as pork belly is one of his favorite things.


Although something tells me he’d enjoy the braised short rib that was served as the fourth course even more. No knife needed – the meat was buttery and shredded with barely any help from my fork. The sunchoke puree it was served with had the texture of velvet. I texted Ben a picture of my plate before digging in with the caption, “Sorry!” …I didn’t hear back. ; )


My favorite course was (surprise!) dessert. There are no words to describe how delicious this Chocolate Terrine with Raspberry Gelee was. I’ve never had anything like it! The chocolate was like a mix between mousse, lava cake, and brownie batter. Wini actually said it best – it was like chocolate butter. I will not soon forget each and every luscious spoonful!


Every Friday and Saturday night there’s a live band playing in the hotel lobby, and the two woman duo entertaining the crowd that had gathered serenaded us with a few songs as we finished dessert. It was the perfect way to end our meal.

Central Iowans (or heck, Midwesterners!) if you want a special and unique meal and hotel experience, head to Hotel Pattee in Perry. I can’t say enough good things about our meal, and the town was super cute. I’d love to go back this summer and explore the ice cream shop, bakery, and nearby bike trail.  All in all it was a great Saturday night!


Earlier that day, before I hopped over to Perry, I made a big, bubbling casserole to share with you for St. Patrick’s Day, which is coming right up! Wine-Braised Beef Shepherd’s Pie is a must-try dish, folks.


So, for the past three years I’ve shared some sort of Shepherd’s Pie on the blog for St. Patrick’s Day. Kind of weird, but also kind of awesome. In 2011 it was a super-easy Skillet Shepherd’s Pie, in 2012 a mouthwatering Shepherd’s Pie with Healthier Mashed Potatoes (that actually taste good!) (coined by my mashed-potatoes-obsessed husband so you know they pass the test!) and last year I shared fun Shepherd’s Pie Meatballs and Mashed Potatoes.

What can I say, I love me a good tradition!

This year I’m going a tad grown-up with this luscious, wine-braised version of Shepherd’s Pie. Forget the green beer – celebrate St. Patty’s Day with red wine. And meat! And potatoes!


That is to say, the combination of chuck roast braised in red wine and beef broth until it’s fall apart-tender then baked underneath a pile of pillowy mashed potatoes is just divine. Comfort food with a little class – on account of the wine, of course.


Start by cutting a 1-1/2 – 2lb chuck roast into big hunks then seasoning the hunks liberally with salt and pepper. This is a LOT of meat, so don’t be stingy with the seasoning!


Heat 2 Tablespoons grapeseed or vegetable oil in a large Dutch Oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat then sear the meat on the top and bottom until a golden brown crust has been formed. Don’t move the meat around while it’s searing otherwise you won’t get that great crust.


Next build your veggie arsenal which includes 1 chopped carrot, 1 chopped celery stalk, and 1 chopped shallot (could use a small onion.)


Add the veggies to the pot then stir ’em around and saute until they’re tender, about 8 minutes.


Next sprinkle in 2 Tablespoons gluten-free (I like white or brown rice flour) or all-purpose flour then stir it around for a minute.


Finally, pour in 2 cups red wine (I used Cabernet…mmmm…Cabernet,) 15oz can gluten-free beef broth, and 3/4 cup water. Turn the heat up to high to bring the liquid to a boil then turn the heat down to medium-low and place a lid on top.


Simmer the meat for 2 – 2-1/2 hours, rotating halfway through, until it shreds very easily. Your house will smell insane, by the way.


Oh yeah!


Once the beef is tender, remove then shred. Try your hardest not to down this entire plate. The end result will be worth it!


If the liquid is still…liquidy…let it bubble and reduce until slightly thickened then add the meat back into the Dutch Oven and add 1-1/2 cups frozen peas.


Scoop the mixture into a 2-1/2 quart casserole dish, then set it aside for a sec.


Mashed potato time! When the meat has about 30 minutes to cook, boil 2lbs peeled and chopped potatoes then drain and mash with 4 Tablespoons butter, 1/2 cup milk, salt, and pepper.


Dollop the mashed potatoes onto the meat mixture then bake on top of a baking sheet for 10-12 minutes at 400 degrees.


Scoop the silky mashed potato topped meat mixture simmering in the thick and luxurious sauce into bowls, then devour!


Wine-Braised Beef Shepherd’s Pie


Gluten-free Wine-Braised Beef Shepherd's Pie is hearty and comforting. Full of delicious flavors!


serves 6

  • 2-3lb chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat then cut into big hunks
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons grapeseed or vegetable oil
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 large shallot, chopped (or 1/2 onion)
  • 2 Tablespoons gluten-free or all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups red wine (I used Cabernet)
  • 15oz can beef broth
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1-1/2 cups peas (fresh or frozen)
  • For the mashed potatoes: 
    • 2lbs potatoes, peeled and chopped (about 3 medium-sized potatoes)
    • 4 Tablespoons butter, softened
    • 1/2 cup milk (may need more)
    • salt and pepper


  1. Heat oil in a large Dutch Oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Season beef on all sides liberally with salt and pepper then place inside Dutch Oven and sear for 3-4 minutes on the top and bottom, until a golden brown crust has formed. Add carrots, celery, and shallots then cook until vegetables are tender, 6-8 minutes. Sprinkle in flour then stir and cook for 1 more minute.
  2. Pour in wine, beef broth, and water then bring to a boil. Place a lid on top of the Dutch Oven then turn heat down to medium-low and simmer for 2 - 2-1/2 hours, or until beef can be easily shredded, turning beef over halfway through. Remove meat then shred. If liquid is not thickened, turn heat up and simmer until thickened then return beef to the pot and add peas. Transfer mixture to an oven-safe, 2-1/2 quart casserole dish set atop a baking sheet then preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. About 30 minutes before the beef is done, add potatoes to a large pot of cold water then bring to a boil and cook until fork-tender. Drain then mash with butter milk, salt and pepper. Spread on top of meat mixture then bake for 10-12 minutes, or until light golden brown on top.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.


This would be a wonderful meal to make next weekend. Slow cook for a few hours in the afternoon on the stove, then top with mashed potatoes and enjoy. Savory, luscious, hearty and comforting. Definitely my favorite Shepherd’s Pie recipe to date. Enjoy!