Traditional Shepherd’s Pie is such a classic comfort food. Saucy minced lamb and veggies covered with a blanket of buttery mashed potatoes. How come we’re only eating this in March??
I made this Traditional Shepherd’s Pie with freshly minced lamb because we’re a little ‘extra’ around here at Eat Up! Kitchen. I’ll go over this process in this post but the recipe is written for either store bought or home minced lamb.
Store bought ground meat is perfectly fine for a dish like this; it’s certainly a time saver! But I didn’t really want store-bought ground lamb in my Shepherd’s Pie. I wanted to control the fat content and the texture of the minced meat. The fat contains a lot of that gaminess lamb sometimes has. By mincing my own meat I can adjust how much fat I want in the dish. Ground meat has a particular texture that I wasn’t looking for in this dish. I wanted the minced meat to be about the same size as the vegetables.
If you use ground meat and you’re fast, you could probably get this dish on the table in under an hour. If you want to join me by going the extra mile, add another 90 minutes to your prep time. Half of that is time the lamb spends in the freezer.
Line a sheet pan with parchment or wax paper. Place lamb stew meat on the paper and transfer to the freezer. The lamb should take 45 to 60 minutes to harden. This will make it much easier to cut through the lamb – especially the fat. It also makes the tiny bits of meat easier to work with as they’re less prone to sticking to your fingers.
Working with one piece at a time, slice the lamb into planks and then slice the planks into strips. Turn the strips 90 degrees and cut into tiny pieces. You’re looking for something about the size of a pea. Transfer the minced lamb back to the sheet pan and keep refrigerated until needed.
You could also process your lamb by using a food processor or a meat grinder. Again, both these methods will give you more control over your minced meat. They’re both much faster than hand cutting the meat but then you have more things to wash. Keep practicing those knife skills!!
Can you make shepherd’s pie with something other than lamb? Well, you could but then it wouldn’t be shepherd’s pie. If you make it with beef then it’s cottage pie. If you make it with venison then it’s Bambi pie.
This recipe calls for chick stock because it’s what I prefer to cook with. You could use beef stock or (ideally) veal stock instead for a richer flavor. You could also use Guinness Beer. I haven’t made it this way so I’m not sure how much to use or if it should be diluted. Red or white wine could also work. Miller Lite or Pepsi would not work.
If you have an aversion to carb-heavy potatoes, you could certainly use mashed cauliflower instead. If you’re avoiding dairy, you could make these garlic and olive oil (vegan) mashed potatoes . If you’ve somehow gotten this far into the recipe only to find out Shepherd’s Pie is not vegan and would like a vegan alternative, use lentils instead!
Traditional Shepherd's Pie
- 2 lbs. Russet Potatoes
- 4 oz. Unsalted Butter
- 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 2 Tbs Vegetable Oil
- 1 1/2 lbs. Minced Lamb
- 1 Cup Diced Onion
- 2 Cloves Garlic Minced
- 3/4 Cup Diced Carrot
- 2 Sprigs Rosemary
- 6 Sprigs Thyme
- 2 Tbs Tomato Paste
- 2 Tbs Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 Tbs Unsalted Butter
- 2 Tbs Flour
- 2 Cups Chicken Stock
- 3/4 Cup Frozen Peas
- 3/4 Cup Frozen Corn
- 2 Tbs Parsley
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Peel and quarter the potatoes. Place them in a medium pot and cover with water and a couple tablespoons of kosher salt. Bring to a boil (10 min), lower the heat and simmer until tender (20 min). While the potatoes are cooking you can prepare the filling. #TimeSaver
- Drain the potatoes and return to the pot. Use a potato masher to break the potatoes apart. Continue mashing as you add a few tablespoons of butter at a time. Add the cream while you continue mashing and begin stirring the potatoes with the masher. Season with a generous amount of kosher salt and black pepper to taste. (15 min)
- In a large skillet, heat 2 tbs vegetable oil over medium high heat. Add the lamb to the pan in batches to brown without overcrowding.
- With each of the following additions, add a pinch (1/8 tsp) of kosher salt to help the ingredients cook. Season to taste at the end.
- Reduce heat to medium. Move the lamb to the sides of the pan then add the onions and garlic. Sweat for 3-4 minutes then mix with the lamb.
- Move the lamb and onions to the sides of the pan then add the diced carrots. Heat for 3-4 minutes then mix with the lamb.
- The herbs can be added whole or the leaves removed from the stems and minced. If adding whole herbs, remove stems at the end of cooking the filling.
- Clear a space in the center of the skillet and add the tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce. Stir the paste around to cook through then incorporate with the lamb.
- Clear a space in the center of the skillet and melt the butter. Whisk in the flour until it’s cooked through then incorporate with the lamb. The filling should be thick and pasty.
- Stir in the stock and cook through for a couple minutes until a rich sauce forms. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add the corn and peas and cook just until warm.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and mix in the parsley.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Even out the lamb filling in the skillet.
- Add mashed potatoes in small dollops over the lamb filling until the surface is all potatoes. Use a spoon to smooth out the top of the potatoes. Dunk the spoon in water if needed to prevent sticking. Add the remaining potatoes and smooth out.
- Use a fork to prick the surface of the shepherd's pie.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes. If necessary, place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes to brown the surface.
- Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.