Monday, September 7, 2020


Happy Labor Day, with grateful thanks to those who work to keep everything going, especially in these unpredictable times.   

I found my recipe on YouTube this week, at this link.  Normally I don't follow a recipe as this dish is something I learned when my Mother used to make it when I was a child.  She always called it Shepherd's Pie and that's all I knew it as for a very long time, but there's history behind the name and I'll share that below the recipe.

Shepherds Pie - 6 to 8 servings

3-1/2 pounds of potatoes
2 teaspoon salt, divided, plus 1/2 teaspoon
7 ounces carrots, diced
7 ounces frozen peas
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup milk
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons of olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
2 pounds lamb

Wash and prepare the vegetables.

Cut your peeled potatoes into four pieces.  Put into a large pot, add 1 teaspoon of salt and cover with water.  Put the lid on top of your pot and bring to a boil, lower heat and cook until tender, about 15-20 minutes depending on the consistency you like for mashed potatoes. 

When potatoes are cooked, drain carefully in a colander and put back into your pot.  Or you can use a large mixing bowl if you prefer.   Add 1/4 cup Cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup milk, 1 egg yolk and mix until you have the mash to your liking.

Put 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a large frying pan and heat to medium-hot.  Carefully add chopped onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for another minute.  We don't want the garlic to burn so turn down the heat a little if necessary.  

Add the diced carrots and cook until tender, stirring occasionally.  

Add lamb and cook until meat is browned through, stirring to break up the meat.  

Next add 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon chopped thyme, 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary and the 1 tablespoon tomato paste.  Mix until combined.

Add 4 tablespoons flour.  Stir until combined and cook for two minutes, to get rid of that 'flour' taste. 

Add 2 cups beef broth and also the frozen peas.  Stir until the gravy becomes thickened.

Transfer to a baking dish, spread out evenly, and use back of spoon to flatten a little.  

On top of this add the mashed potatoes And as above, spread out and flatten so that when you cut the pieces into single portions there will be the same amount of beef mixture and potato on each plate. Score all over the potatoes with a fork.  This will make the top brown and have a nice crust.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in a 400 degree (200 deg. C) oven.

Not forgetting your oven gloves, take out of the oven and place on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes, or as long as it takes so that you don't burn your mouth when eating it!  Yes I know, I sound like a Mom. 
We changed a few things.  We didn't add the amount of oil called for, maybe a tablespoon. To the cooked potatoes we didn't add the cheese or the egg yolk, just salt and pepper, butter and a big spoon of sour cream.  Add whatever you do when making your own mashed potatoes.

I suggested that we add a couple of tablespoons of Daddies Sauce to the meat mixture when cooking next time, or Worcestershire Sauce.  I felt it needed a little extra something.  The ones my mother made all had a seasoned gravy mix, but one of the reasons I chose this recipe was that I wanted to make it from scratch 

If you are not used to the salt in foods, you can leave that out. I always try to cut back on ours and don’t usually add the amount called for in a recipe. 

Also perhaps a little more thyme and rosemary.  I had fresh rosemary on hand but not fresh thyme, so I used dried. 

We both gave this dish a ten out of ten.

According to its history, we turned our Shepherd's Pie into a Cottage Pie, because I used ground beef instead of lamb.  Mother always used beef in hers, and always called it Shepherd's Pie. 

Cottage Pie originally came from England, dating back to 1791.  Shepherd's Pie appeared in Ireland and dated back to 1870.  

According to what I read online, sliced potatoes were traditionally layered on top of a Cottage Pie because people of limited means lived in small cottages, and the potatoes were done to resemble a cottage roof's shingles.  

A Shepherd's Pie topping was always mashed potatoes.  I am not sure why it is called 'pie'. Lamb was used and shepherds looked after the lambs, that's where the name Shepherd's Pie came from.

As for choice of vegetables, I have always used onions, carrots and peas, but some say no peas and some say no carrots.  Some say both and I am in that category, plus the onion which again goes back to how my mother made it.  

My Sweet Other Half wanted to use additional vegetables, plus hot sauce and I balked at the idea.  I can be adventurous in cooking but not when it comes to my mother's recipe. "You can add anything you like once it's on your plate" said I with a smile.  His suggestions were a bridge too far, as I didn't want to mess with mother’s shepherd's pie, and the thought of putting hot sauce might sound good to many, but not to me.  I quickly add I enjoy hot sauce in other recipes.  His mom also made Shepherd's Pie and he remembers that from childhood.  It was very similar to the one made by my mum, and my mother-in-law and my mother put together excellent meals. 

If you have made this, how do you do yours?  I suppose we make them to our own tastes and that's what is important.  

Vegans and Vegetarians have been known to call a meat-free Shepherd's Pie as 'shepherdless' pie.  For those, using Quorn, mushrooms, lentils or a selection of other vegetables could be used.

There is also a Cumberland Pie topped with mashed potatoes, with the addition of breadcrumbs and cheese.

Wikipedia has a great write up here.

However you make your 'pie', I wish you Bon Appetit!

Finally, thank you for looking at my recipe.  Have a safe, happy and healthy September, and a great week ahead. 


  1. I didn't know this history, and it is so cool why it is called Cottage Pie! Well, it is impossible to buy lamb anywhere around here, has been for yers. I don't know why. But I love Shapard's Pie, and yours looks delicious!

    1. Hi Ginny, thank you :) That is interesting about not being able to get lamb in your area. Must confess to not having bought any for years. I will have to look next time I shop.

  2. Looks good.
    Similar to the Shepherds Pie I make.

    1. Hi Margaret, thank you. Glad you enjoy your own Shepherd’s Pie :)

  3. We make a Cottage Pie - and usually call it a Shepherds Pie. I add a lot of vegies to it - it is one way to ensure the resident carnivore gets more vegetables in his diet. No salt though.

    1. A great way to introduce more vegetables :) Thanks EC!

  4. Now the weather is getting cooler here in Yorkshire I shall be making this dish. I'll make the most of the oven by baking an apple pie or crumble at the same time. My recipe is the same as yours. Ground beef for Cottage Pie and ground lamb (minced meat) for Shepherd's Pie. I don't know why the dish is called 'a pie' either, but it's certainly a favourite. A dash of Worcester sauce sounds like a good addition. Otherwise making it like mother used to do means you get a tasty result, I think. Happy new week Denise.

    1. Same as we did then Linda :) and baking the apple pie at the same time is a great idea and would make for a delicious meal. Following Mother’s cooking is full proof :)

  5. mother called several different things shepherds pie, it was a way to use up left overs, one she put biscuits on top of the other mashed potato. similar to this but not that many ingredients. my version I raised my kids on, was line the baking glass pie dish with burger, season to taste, put mashed potatoes on top, with a spoon make a hole and fill that with garden peas and bake. we all loved it.

    1. Shepherd's Pie lends itself to leftovers, that's for sure. Now biscuits sounds like a great idea, and the one with the hole in the mashed potatoes. Sounds so yummy! I will have to give those a try. Thanks Sandra :)

  6. Hello, Denise

    The Shepherd's Pie looks delicious. Thanks for sharing another great recipe.
    Enjoy your day, wishing you a happy new week!

    1. Thank you Eileen and you are very welcome. Your enjoy your day also and a lovely week :)

  7. This looks so delicious, up there on list of comfort foods like mac n cheese!

  8. Sounds absolutely delicious! I shall try this recipe.

    1. Great Gigi, I hope you like it and will let me know what you think afterwards :)

  9. Thanks for your added suggestions. This is such a comfort food meal!

    1. Very much a comfort food, especially on a cold winter evening :) Thanks Ellen!

  10. Great post Denise.
    Lovely recipe and information.

    When I make it I swap the mashed potato for mashed swede, but the recipe is very versatile and can so easily be tweaked to dietary requirements.

    Have a lovely week ahead.

    All the best Jan

    1. I love the swede idea Jan, thanks for that. Yes it is very versatile. All the best to you Jan and have a great week :)

  11. Shepherd's pie is delicious - yours looks yummy!

  12. Your recipe is very similar to one that I used to make, Denise. Since I've been eating low carb, I used cauliflower mashed like potatoes on top. My grandson, that doesn't like cauliflower, ate it and declared it good. Of course with a lot of cheese on top I think that may have camouflaged the cauliflower taste for him. Thank you for the background information on the pie. So interesting.

    1. Hi Martha Ellen and you are very welcome. Thanks for the great idea of using cauliflower mash as the topping :) Sounds very yummy!

  13. We called it Shepherds pie, but always only used ground beef (I don’t think I’ve ever even seen anything lamb except “leg of...” which I cooked once for Easter dinner). Anyway, my mom’s ... and my ... shepherd’s pie is just about exactly like yours . mashed potatoes for sure...whoever heard of sliced ))) . I have to say this is not a dish in my repertoire nowadays, I probably haven’t made it since we had four hungry teenagers around the table. But suddenly it sounds good again. As soon as it cools down some. .

    1. Hi Sallie :) we don't eat lamb as my family here didn't enjoy it but it was very much a part of my growing up years, but not in this dish. Next time I am going to make individual portions. I have small pots that would lend themselves to this recipe, and very easy to freeze what we don't use for another time.


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