I was actually asked this question the other day “How do you make Shepherd’s Pie from scratch?” It was so easy to reel off the ingredients and instructions to them I thought to myself I’ve got to make me a Shepherd’s Pie!
It’s a proper British classic, warming and a great comfort food. I don’t think there are many people in the UK who don’t love a Shepherd’s Pie, I know I do.
This recipe will of course make the Shepherd’s Pie’s brother from another mother the Cottage Pie. After all is the same thing just with beef replacing the lamb mince. So yay! You’ve got two recipes for the price of one!
As with all recipes, careful seasoning is the key to making this dish a cut above. Luckily before we create our pie and ingredients are cooked so we can taste them before building the dish, so no excuses for this not to be the finest Shepherd’s Pie you have ever made.
You can also make this into individual portions and freeze, I usually keep in the freezer for a month to six weeks.
- 500g x Minced Lamb (or Beef for Cottage Pie)
- 3 x Large Potato
- 1 x Large White Onion
- 1 x Large Carrot
- 1 x Big handful of Peas (same quantity as carrot)
- 1 x Sprig of Rosemary (Omit if making Cottage Pie)
- 1 x Sprig of Thyme
- 1 x Gravy to cover the Mince (more on that below)
- Pepper (White and Black)
First off let’s get your mashed potato going on. Peel and chop your potatoes and give them a rinse in cold water. Cover with water and add a good pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and simmer until tender.
While your potatoes are coming up to the boil, dice your onions and peel and dice your carrot. Make them about the same sized medium chunks, but don’t be too precious, this is a rustic dish after all!
Now add a small amount of oil to a frying pan add the onions and carrots and gently fry to soften them. This should take around the same time as your potatoes come up to the boil.
Once the veggies are softened add the minced lamb (or beef) to the frying pan and fry off until all the mince has changed colour.
When that is done add the sprigs of thyme and rosemary, then we are going to add our gravy. Now by all means use gravy granules, honestly I won’t hold it against you in this world of convenience, but please don’t be afraid to make it yourself.
Remember to check your potatoes!
To do that add stock to cover the meat about 500ml, lamb stock is obviously best for Shepherd’s Pie, but use any stock you have – chicken, beef, veggie, it will taste great trust me.
Add a little gravy browning for colour, then in a cup add 2 heaped teaspoons of plain flour and mix with a little cold water until you have a paste the consistency of thick double cream. Add that into the pan and mix thoroughly immediately.
Give it a good pinch of ground black pepper, stir in and taste. Check if you need more salt. As all stock, gravy granules, etc. contain different salt levels this is important to do now.
Throw in your peas and give a stir, then turn off the heat.
Your potatoes should be done. When they are mash them how you like them. I add a good glug of quality rapeseed oil (a healthy option compared to my usual good knob of butter!), a pinch of salt, a pinch of white pepper and a splash of milk. Now mash, mash, mash! No lumps please, also make sure you taste the potatoes for seasoning.
Let’s build this Shepherd’s Pie!
Simply pour your meat mix into a high top casserole dish and give a little shake to level it out.
Take your mash and try to ‘slice’ it into pieces the same thickness. The reason for this is when you put it on top of the meat mix you won’t be able to change the thickness of the mash. If you try you will sink it into the meat mix so be warned!
Place the pieces of mash on top of the meat covering as much as you can.
Now with a fork gently move the mash around filling any gaps. At this point you can also use the fork to make a nice swirly pattern on top of the mash.
Place in the oven at 180C (Gas mark 4, 350F) for about 35 minutes. Put a tray below the casserole dish in case of drips.
The top should be golden brown and you will see some gravy bubbling up the sides…perfect!
I really hope you enjoy this classic British winter warmer as the nights draw in.
Remember to tell me about your Shepherd’s Pie adventures in the comment below.