Shepherds Pie

Growing up in the UK shepherds pie was a dish that we would have almost weekly and when we didn’t, my Mum said that they were out of shepherds this week and I never really thought about questioning her about it!

But it is a dish that could be classed as total “Comfort Food” and if they ate it in the USA it would be on every Soul Food restaurant menu up there with macaroni cheese and collard greens! But did you know that the term “shepherd’s pie” did not appear until the late 1800’s and since then it has been used synonymously with “cottage pie”, regardless of whether the principal ingredient was beef or mutton. More recently, the term “shepherd’s pie” has been used only when the meat is lamb, the theory being that shepherds are concerned with sheep and not cattle. There seems to be some confusion over this dish and basically it is no big deal to me whether you make this with lamb or beef. Traditionally shepherds pie should be made with lamb as it is shepherds who take care of the sheep. If you can’t get lamb use beef and call it cottage pie!

There are many recipes floating around out there and of course Mum’s is always the best!

Serves 4


  • 500g minced lamb
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2-3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup of peas frozen or fresh
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • large splash Worcestershire sauce
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 900g potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 85g butter
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • Salt and pepper to season

Preparation method:

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan, then soften the onion and carrots for a few mins. When soft, turn up the heat, crumble in the lamb and brown, tipping off any excess fat. Add the tomato purée and Worcestershire sauce and peas then fry for a few mins. Pour over the stock, bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 40 mins, uncovering halfway.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180C/ fan 160C/ gas 4, then make the mash. Boil the potatoes in salted water for 10-15 mins until tender. Drain, then mash with the butter and milk.

Put the mince mixture into an ovenproof dish, top with the mash and ruffle with a fork. Bake for 20-25 mins until the top is starting to colour and the mince is bubbling through at the edges. You can also pop the pie under the grill to give it an extra browning if you like. Leave to stand for 5 mins before serving.