Shepherd’s Pie, also known as Cottage Pie, is a hearty and comforting dish originating from the United Kingdom. Traditionally, it is made with a savory filling of ground or minced meat (usually lamb for Shepherd’s Pie and beef for Cottage Pie) and vegetables, topped with a layer of creamy mashed potatoes, and baked to golden perfection. This classic dish became popular in the 18th century as a way to use up leftover roasted meat and vegetables, making it both economical and delicious. Over time, Shepherd’s Pie has become a staple in British cuisine and has gained popularity worldwide for its satisfying, warming, and rustic qualities.
Here’s a delicious Shepherd’s Pie recipe for you to try:
For the filling:
- 2 lbs (900g) ground lamb or beef
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup (240ml) beef or chicken broth
- 1 cup (240ml) red wine (optional)
- 1 tbsp (15g) tomato paste
- 1 tbsp (15g) Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp (2g) dried thyme or 1 tbsp (4g) fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 tsp (2g) dried rosemary or 1 tbsp (4g) fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 cup (150g) frozen peas
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 tbsp (30g) unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp (20g) all-purpose flour
For the mashed potato topping:
- 2 1/2 lbs (1.1 kg) potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) chunks
- 1/2 cup (120ml) milk or cream, warmed
- 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, softened
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup (100g) grated cheddar cheese (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
- In a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven, heat a drizzle of oil over medium heat. Add the ground lamb or beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, and cook until browned. Remove the meat from the skillet with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving the rendered fat in the pan.
- Add the onions, carrots, and celery to the skillet, and cook over medium heat until the vegetables have softened and the onions are translucent about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
- Return the browned meat to the skillet and mix it with the vegetables. Stir in the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, rosemary, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 1-2 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together.
- If using red wine, pour it into the skillet and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook for about 5 minutes to reduce the wine and concentrate its flavor. If not using wine, proceed to the next step.
- Add the broth to the skillet and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by about half. Stir in the frozen peas.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the all-purpose flour to form a roux, and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously. Gradually whisk in a ladleful of the hot liquid from the meat mixture until smooth, then pour this back into the meat mixture to thicken it.
- While the meat mixture is simmering, prepare the mashed potato topping. Place the peeled and cut potatoes in a large pot and cover them with water. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the potatoes until they are fork-tender about 15-20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot.
- Add the softened butter and warmed milk or cream to the cooked potatoes. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or an electric mixer until they are smooth and creamy, taking care not to overmix. Season the mashed potatoes with salt and pepper to taste.
- Once the meat mixture has thickened, remove it from the heat and transfer it to a 9×13-inch (23×33 cm) baking dish, spreading it out evenly.
- Spoon the mashed potato topping over the meat mixture, spreading it out to create an even layer. If desired, use a fork to create a textured pattern on the surface of the mashed potatoes, which will become crisp and golden when baked.
- If using cheddar cheese, sprinkle it evenly over the mashed potato topping.
- Place the baking dish in the preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the mashed potato topping is golden brown and the meat mixture is bubbling around the edges. If the topping needs more browning, place the dish under the broiler for a few minutes, keeping a close eye on it to prevent burning.
- Remove the Shepherd’s Pie from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving. This will allow the filling to set and make it easier to serve.
- Enjoy your homemade Shepherd’s Pie with a side of steamed vegetables, a green salad, or crusty bread for a satisfying and comforting meal.
This Shepherd’s Pie recipe is a perfect example of a classic, comforting dish that combines tender, flavorful meat with a rich and creamy mashed potato topping. The dish is versatile and can be easily customized to suit your personal taste. For example, you can add other vegetables like peas, corn, or mushrooms to the filling or experiment with different herbs and spices to create your own unique flavor profile. Additionally, you can substitute ground turkey or chicken for a lighter version of this traditional favorite. No matter how you choose to make it, Shepherd’s Pie is sure to become a beloved addition to your dinner table.