Shepherd’s Pie

shepherd pie header

When TheWife and I went to England in 2015, we had a long list of foods we wanted to sample.  Top of the list was anything Indian because we had heard it was just amazing across the pond… it was… mmmm chicken tikki masala.

Great, now I am hungry.

Fish ‘n Chips, bangers and mash, cobbler, bubble and squeak, pasties, pease pudding, trifle, toad-in-the-hole, yorkshire pudding, porridge… oh the list goes on and on.  Might I say, it was (for the most part) amazing and delicious! Ignore those who complain about it; they are sadly misinformed and missing out on some fantastic fare.

And now I am more hungry.

To distract myself, let me tell you about the one thing we never got a chance to sample … a good Cottage (Shepherd’s) Pie. I have made it before, but really wanted to get the chance to sample authentic fare.  Next time!

As for now, lets make what we hope is a really good rendition of it.


The Filling:
2 tbsp Olive Oil
2 lbs Ground Lamb
1 Large Carrot (grated)
1 Large Onion (grated)
1 bag of frozen peas
1 tbsp Fresh Rosemary
1 tbsp Fresh Thyme
2 tbsp Minced Garlic (or 4 cloves)
Worcestershire Sauce (several splashes)
4 oz. Tomato Puree or Paste (no more than a small can)
¼ cup Red Wine (or several glugs)
¼ cup Chicken Stock

The Mash:
2 lbs Golden Potatoes
¼ cup Heavy Cream
3 ½ tbsp. Butter
2 Eggs
¼ cup Parmesan Cheese for the mix
¼ cup or more of Parmesan Cheese for the top!


shepherd pie 1

Put the potatoes on to boil.

shepherd pie 2Grate the carrot and the onion; yes grate them. You will see that I did a quick cheat and ran them both through the food processor. This works for the onion, it will melt down into the mixture wonderfully this way. I failed to realize the carrots would not do the same.

shepherd pie 3The order that I put the ingredients in this time was: Lamb, garlic, onions, and carrots.

What I would do next time? Carrots, onions, garlic. Shift the mixture to the side and brown the lamb before you put the mixture back in.

If you make this recipe with beef (don’t! stop! Do not do it!) you have to be sure to drain the fat before you add in the vegetables.

Also, at that point it is called Cottage Pie.  Shepherds heard sheep… not cows.

Add the salt and pepper. The mixture will begin to meld together without being soupy. The vegetables will give off a good amount of water, but that will cook out. Cooking on a medium heat, this should take about 5 to 6 minutes. At this point add the thyme, rosemary, tomato paste, and pour in the wine.

The carrot I used for this was not large… it was huge.  HUGE. But I also like a lot of carrot in my shepherds pie; adds color and a certain sweetness to compliment the tanginess of the worcestershire sauce.

shepherd pie 4Cook it down for 5 minutes more before adding the worcestershire sauce and chicken stock. Notice how I said a “splash”? Yeah, it is “to taste”. Your taste might be a splash… mine is more like a glug; it is the equivalent to 3 tablespoons. Man, I love worcestershire sauce. Cook it down again until it is good and thick, the liquid being gone. Last thing you want is a soupy bottom to the pie.

shepherd pie 5Mash up the potatoes in whatever fashion works best for you. I love to use a hand masher while the potatoes are still in the original pan. Throw in the butter, salt, and pepper. Keep mashing. Pour in the cream and two eggs while mashing some more. Once mixed, add in the secret ingredient – parmesan cheese. And mash some more until it is all good, thick, and smooth. Did you leave on the skins like I did? You will have mashed enough that it looks more like pepper.

The goal? No runny potatoes! The mash needs to be good and thick. If you are worried about it being runny, then add the cream in just a little at a time.

Lets be frank… the parmesan cheese brings a nutty flavor to the mash but also has an important role in beautifully browning the crust (the top) of the pie. So keep the parmesan cheese. Do not substitute. Do not delete.

shepherd pie 6Place the lamb mixture in an oven safe bowl… or two… and spoon in the mash on top. Start from the sides and work your way toward the middle.

shepherd pie 7Smooth it out so that it is even all the way across.

shepherd pie 8Sprinkle more (yes, more!) parmesan cheese on top before fluffing the top with a fork.

400 degrees in an oven for 20 minutes and let it rest for 15.

shepherd pie 9Ta da! Enjoy!

Fred Willis

About Fred Willis

Husband, Father, Brother, Reverend, and Avid Cook. Rev. Fred Willis is currently the Lead Pastor at Holy Covenant UMC and has been an ordained Elder in the Texas Annual Conference for going on 20 years. He became a homecook first as a hobby (and because he loves to eat!) but it developed into a passion for learning. Be it food, faith, or his family, Fred is always trying to get better at the things that matter.

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