Shepherd’s Pie


First of all, this isn’t cowboy pie.  Shepherds herd sheep, not cows.  Lamb is therefore the proper meat to go in this.

1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp flour
1 lb ground lamb  (or get regular lamb and get chopping)
3 carrots, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen peas
2 lbs of red skinned potatoes
1 cup beef stock
1 medium can of petit-diced or crushed tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) butter
¼ cup of milk
½ cup parmesan
Salt & Pepper

Peel and chop potato and boil until cooked and soft.  You’re aiming for mashed potato consistency.

While potato is boiling, heat the oil in a large skillet on medium high heat and cook the garlic and onions until the onions become transparent. Be careful not to burn the garlic.  Add the carrots and continue to cook until the onions begin to caramelize.  Add the lamb and brown it.

Once the lamb begins to render it’s fat, add the flour and stir, then add the frozen veggies and bay leaves, again stirring until evenly distributed. Add the stock, tomato, salt and pepper.

Bring the pot up to a boil then reduce and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, at least 15 minutes (sauce should thicken and reduce).

Drain the potatoes and mash them with 3 tbsp of the butter, the milk and parmesan.

In a large flat casserole (I used a 12×12) pour the meat and veggie mixture and remove the bay leaves (very important!) then top with your mashed potatoes, spreading evenly leaving only a small gap around the sides. Melt the remaining tbsp of butter and pour on top of the potatoes.

Place the uncovered casserole in the middle of your oven under the broiler, for five minutes or until the top of the potatoes has turned a golden brown. Remove and serve.


When David’s sister was in Australia studying at the Culinary Institute, one of the big, up-and-coming cookbook authors was Donna Hay, and we received her cookbook Off the Shelf for Christmas.  Our take on the recipe has evolved over time.  This is another one that makes pretty frequent appearances during the winter.


16 responses »

  1. *giggles* What would it be called if one used *gasp* Chicken or Turkey?

    And I love that you add in the option to purchase normal lamb.

    …where, exactly, do normal people get lamb from, by the way. The local grocery stores do not carry it.

    And also, how exactly does one know when fat is rendered?

  2. re: Chicken or Turkey. I’ve never tried it with either, but I’d be much more likely to try it with Turkey. Turkey will need more oil (see fat rendering comment below) as it’s very lean, but it’s also got a more generic “this is meat/protein” taste which I think will work better with the other flavors. Chicken always tastes kinda like chicken.

    re: fat rendering. It’s a nice way of saying “the fat inside turns liquid and comes out.” Much in the same way bacon always leaves more grease in the pan than you think would fit in that slice of meat… The higher the fat content, the more fat will liquefy. Essentially, you’re looking for more grease in the pan than you started with. *unless you use Turkey, see above 😉

    re: general note on substituting. The flour to oil ratio should be 1:1, so with 2 tbsp of flour, if you use a leaner meat, you’ll want to add an additional 2 tbsp of oil at the “render” stage (i.e. when you add the flour) This gives you the proper ratio for thickening.

    re: where to find Lamb… It’s sometimes a toughie. You’re not going to want a leg, you’re going to want either ground or something that looks vaguely steak-like. Usually when we get it, it’s at the Butcher Counter of the local Harris Teeter, not in their “these are the things we prep for you” but the pre-packaged stuff directly under. I’ve also found it in the frozen section. Sometimes they’ll stick it in with the frozen hamburger pre-made patties, and very rarely, especially odd stuff like ostrich or bison.

    And for all that I say Lamb should be used, it’s something we have available in our area, plus my problems with eating beef. Ground beef or Turkey would each be perfectly adequate substitutes. (For beef, don’t go for the extra lean stuff, or you’ll again need to add more oil.)

  3. eeeeeeenteresting. Thank you very much! I don’t know when I’ll try this (no room in the menu this weekend) but I printed a copy out and will get back to you when I do! ❤

  4. er, and I totally missed the actual question.

    You’ll know the fat is finished rendering when the meat is essentially “cooked.” Lamb/beef/bison/ostrich will turn brown, pork/chicken/turkey will turn white. The “turns brown” renders fat. The “turns white” needs fat added.

  5. Well, it doesn’t -always- work, but it mostly does! And it’s a good thing to keep in mind, especially with so much of our cooking being “toss stuff in a pot and see what happens.”

    (Or, as David likes to claim is his philosophy of cooking: Take stuff that tastes good and put it together. It usually works.)

  6. My husband went through that phase. Unfortunately, it meant that he and his brother went on a scientific exploration of the many foods one can put hot sauce on.

    Apparently oranges make hot sauce MUCH MUCH hotter. It also made their faces turn red and their noses run.

  7. Well, acid opens up the taste buds letting that hot sauce hit much harder, yeah.

    Personally, I like Asian food. Thai, Indian, Chinese… I like a little heat, because the chiles they use are just hot.

    I cannot handle wings, however. omg, the vinegar in the sauce is just killer for making the spices that much spicier.

  8. I’m not a wing-eater, either. I like flavorful heat, and vinegar isn’t really a flavor I seek out (except for in my artichoke beef skillet, nom!). My spicy, particularly, I require flavor rather than temperature.

  9. Exactly. My chili is very “mild” as far as heat levels go (well, might be classified as ‘medium,’ but David who’s pretty wimpy about that doesn’t have aproblem), but it’s sooo full of tasty.

    Hrm, another recipe I need to get around to posting.

  10. I should post a few myself. Like that artichoke skillet, which rocks my world. And the Enchilada Stir Fry we made up because we reached the middle of the recipe and my husband wrinkled his nose, saying “Why do we have to go through all the work to wrap it up in tortillas and bake them?”

    I agreed, and we got that crazy baker’s glint in our eyes, and started tossing stuff in the pot.

    Edible sunshine, that stuff.

  11. I’d be very interested. The most obnoxious thing about enchaladas is the wrapping, kinda like lasagne.

    I’d much rather do it the easy way and just make pasta bake. (none of that layering that takes forever. Just dump, stir, and bake)

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