Shepherd’s Pie

All of us food bores know that real shepherd’s pie is made with minced lamb. If it’s made with beef, it’s cottage pie. According to the ever-reliable (!) Wikipedia, the term “cottage pie” has been around since 1791, where leftover beef would be used by the poor cottage-dwellers as a pie filling. “Shepherds pie” came along about a hundred years later, as a cheekily-named lamb equivalent.

Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd’s Pie is traditionally made with minced lamb left over from a roast. The pie in these pictures comprises not only the leftover lamb, but the leftover gravy too; this gives the pie a rich and deep flavour. I’d go so far as saying it’s worth roasting lamb joint just to make this pie!


  • 500g minced lamb, leftover if possible
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 sticks celery, chopped
  • 250ml beef stock, or leftover gravy topped up with water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • salt & pepper
  • 900g potatoes


  1. If you’re using leftover lamb, chop it finely rather than mincing it. This ensures there’s a bit of texture in the finished dish. Heat a little olive in a pan and brown the lamb and onion. Add the carrot and celery and fry for a minute more.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the potatoes) and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer very gently for about 30 minutes.
  3. While the lamb filling cooks, pre-heat the oven to 200°C and prepare your spuds. Boil the potatoes until tender, then mash with a little milk and plenty of butter and seasoning. You could also add an egg yolk which will enrich the mash and give it a great golden colour while it browns.
  4. Transfer the lamb mixture to an oven-proof pie dish. Spread the mash on top and use a fork to make a rough surface. Bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes or until the pie is golden brown. Serve with some piccalilli or some buttered peas.

Shepherd's Pie #2


  • Roast Lamb – Add 2 minced garlic cloves, a teaspoon of finely chopped rosemary and a glass of red wine while you’re frying the lamb. Serve with minted peas on the side. All the flavours of a classic lamb roast in one dish.
  • Cottage Pie – Substitute the lamb for beef and add a small bottle of stout and reduce. Some finely chopped thyme would be a nice addition to this also.

Serves 4.


1 Response to “Shepherd’s Pie”

  1. 1 Five Hour Lamb - Recipe | Toasted Special Trackback on October 20, 2009 at 4:30 pm
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