A Shepherd’s Pie made the traditional British way (with lamb). A rich meat layer topped with creamy mash, this is sure to be a new family favourite!
Shepherd’s Pie vs Cottage Pie
First things first, let’s see what we’re working with here. Put quite simply, here in the UK:
Cottage Pie = Beef
Shepherd’s Pie = Lamb
If you’re after a Cottage Pie Recipe, then do check out my Mum’s Traditional Cottage Pie.
Shepherd’s Pie Filling
For the meat layer, we’re looking for tender, juicy meat in a thick & rich gravy. To achieve this we’re going to give it a good simmer to really tenderize and soften the meat. We’re also going to be using red wine, Worcestershire sauce and gravy granules to offer a nice deep, rich sauce.
How to make Shepherd’s Pie Filling (quick summary)
- Add lamb to a large skillet and fry until browned.
- Pour into baking dish, then fry onion, carrot, celery and garlic.
- Stir in tomato puree.
- Deglaze with red wine.
- Add back in lamb and stir to combine.
- Add beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, dried thyme & rosemary, gravy granules, bay leaves.
Mashed Potato Shepherd’s Pie
Right, mince layer is done, now let’s talk mash. I like to keep the mash layer fairly simple, but tasty enough to not be overshadowed by the lamb layer. Here’s what you’ll need:
Shepherd’s Pie Mashed Potato Ingredients
- Potatoes – Peeled, white and diced into 1″ chunks.
- Cream – can sub milk.
- Butter – of course.
- Nutmeg – Adds gorgeous flavour to the mash.
- Parmesan – To add a crispy layer on top.
How do I stop the mash from sinking into the lamb?
- Potatoes – Ensure your potatoes steam dry a little before you mash them. This will allow some of that moisture to escape and help the mash layer firm up.
- Lamb – Let the lamb layer cool in the baking dish before you top it with mash. Because no steam can escape when it’s baking (as it’s hidden under the mash) whatever the thickness of the meat sauce before the oven, will be similar on the other end.
Baked Shepherd’s Pie
Okey dokey, mince – done. Mash – done. Time to whack it all together!
Tips for making Shepherd’s Pie
- Thickening – Make sure your mince is properly thickened. Because it’ll be under a layer of potato, there will be no room for the steam to escape, meaning it won’t reduce much at all. Whatever the texture before the oven will be the texture after. Gently simmering for up to 45mins will do the trick.
- Even Layer of Mash – Go scoop by scoop from outside to inside. This will make sure the mince layer doesn’t clump to one side.
Can you make Shepherd’s Pie ahead of time?
Shepherd’s pie can also be made ahead, either store in the fridge and add an extra 5-10mins to oven time, or bring to room temp and bake as instructed.
Can you freeze Shepherd’s Pie?
Shepherd’s pie is perfect for leftovers! Pop in the freezer, then thaw and pop back in the oven (or microwave).
Serving Shepherd’s Pie
Once it’s cooked and out the oven, I recommend resting for 5mins or so, just to help retain shape before serving.
What to serve with Shepherd’s Pie?
Okay, let’s tuck into the full recipe for this Shepherd’s Pie Recipe shall we!?
How to make Shepherd’s Pie (Full Recipe & Video)
Traditional Shepherd's Pie
- Deep 12" Skillet or Large Pot (for meat layer)
- Large Pot & Colander (for mash)
- 8x12" Baking Dish (for combined)
- Tray (to place dish on)
- Chopping Board & Sharp Knife (for veg)
- Jug (for stock)
- Potato Masher (for mash)
- Fine Grater (for parmesan)
- Wooden Spoon
Ingredients (check list):
- 2lb / 1kg Minced/Ground Lamb
- 2.5 cups / 625ml Beef Stock
- 1/2 cup / 125ml Dry Red Wine (see notes)
- 2 medium Carrots, finely diced
- 2 ribs of Celery, finely diced
- 1 medium White Onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves of Garlic, finely diced
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 tbsp Gravy Granules (see notes)
- 2 tbsp Tomato Puree (Tomato Paste in US)
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1 tsp Dried Rosemary
- 1/2 tsp Dried Thyme
- Olive Oil, as needed
- Salt & Black Pepper, to taste
- 4lb / 2kg White Potatoes, peeled & diced into 1" chunks
- 1/2 cup / 125ml Cream (can sub milk)
- 4 tbsp Butter
- 1/4-1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
- 1/2 cup / 40g freshly grated Parmesan
- Salt & Black Pepper, to taste
- Add a drizzle of olive oil to a large skillet/pot over medium heat and add your lamb. Break up with a wooden spoon until it begins to brown, then season with salt & pepper. Continue to fry until completely browned and the liquid (if any) has disappeared. Pour into your baking dish and place to one side.
- Add more oil as needed to the skillet/pot then add your onion, celery and carrot. Fry until they begin to soften and brown, then add your garlic. Fry for a minute longer, then stir in 2 tbsp tomato puree. Deglaze with 1/2cup / 125ml wine and allow to reduce for a few mins. Add back in your lamb and stir to combine.
- Pour in 2.5 cups / 625ml Beef stock then add 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 2 tbsp gravy granules, 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp rosemary, 1/2 tsp thyme and salt & pepper to taste. Allow to gently simmer for 35-45mins or until thickened.
- Meanwhile, boil your potatoes in salted water until knife tender. Drain and mash in 4 tbsp butter. Once lump free, stir in 1/2 cup / 125ml cream and season to taste with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
- Pour your lamb into the baking dish, then top with your mash. I recommend doing this in large spoonfuls dollop by dollop, working from the outside in. This is just so the lamb stays in an even layer and doesn't clump to one end. Top with parmesan, pop the baking dish on a tray and place in the oven at 390F/200C for 20-25mins, or until golden on top and bubbling round the edges.
- Let it sit for 5mins (just to retain shape) then serve up!
Quick 1 min demo!
Your Private Notes:
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Comfort Food Dinner Ideas
- Roasted Garlic Mac and Cheese
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- Chilli Con Carne
- Spaghetti Bolognese
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