I think when Brits are born we are born knowing how to make a really good shepherds pie. I've been eating at least one a week since I was a child and my mum used to make it for me. And then started making them myself from a very young age. And with a very British boss as my main client, I have to be an expert at this point!
Americans get confused with shepherds vs cottage pie. Shepherds pie is with ground lamb while cottage pie is with ground beef. Both are delicious but lamb isn't as popular in the states as it is in the UK so when people make it out here they usually make it with ground beef which is technically incorrect when they call it a "shepherds pie". Think of it as shepherds take care of sheep!
Ok, enough of the history lesson. This shepherds pie is the most classic you'll find with huge flavor. Don't be afraid of that Worcestershire sauce, it's what makes it so so good. We love to splash it on thick in England.
Let me show you how I make it!
This recipe feeds 4-6 people
You will need:
For the mash-
6 large russet potatoes
1 egg yolk
1 cup whole milk (or half and half)
4 tbsp butter
1 tsp nutmeg
2 cloves garlic, minced
Shredded English mature cheddar to sprinkle on top
For the filling-
1.5lbs organic ground lamb (or grass fed organic ground beef (85/25))
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, diced
2 sticks celery, finely diced
1 cup frozen peas
1 bay leaf
A few springs of fresh thyme
2 tbsp tomato paste
About 10-15 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup beef bone broth
Start by peeling your large russet potatoes and wash them. Cut them in to chunks and put them in cold salted water and bring them to a boil.
Boil until soft, fluffy and they are almost falling apart when you put a fork in. That's when mashed potatoes come out the smoothest and fluffiest.
Drain the potatoes and run them through a potato ricer to get them super smooth.
Now add in warmed milk, the butter and combine. Then add in your nutmeg and garlic, and finally the egg yolk which helps the mash brown.
Now it's time to work on your filling!
Ground lamb is definitely harder to come by in the US so I would use ground beef if that's easier. However it won't be a shepherds pie anymore as you now know... 😂
Start with olive oil in a pan along with your onions and carrots, celery and bay leaf with sprigs of thyme.
Salt and pepper the veggies and let them sweat in the oil for a few minutes.
Now add in your ground lamb (or beef) and cook until browned and finely minced.
Then it's time to add in your red wine and reduce for a few minutes.
Now add in your tomato paste and mix in to the filling. Then add in the beef broth and Worcestershire sauce.
Let us all reduce a little and thicken, about 10-15 minutes.
Test to see if it needs any extra salt or black pepper. Then remove your thyme springs and bay leaf.
Add the filling in to a baking dish (or make the filling in a cast iron skillet so you can put the whole pan in the oven). And then spoon over your mashed potatoes.
Smooth out the mash over the filling and then with a fork, make rake marks in the potatoes because shepherds take their fields.
Now sprinkle the shredded cheddar cheese over the top and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown on top and bubbling.
Serve hot with a veggie on the side like some lemony garlic roasted broccolini and enjoy by a cozy fire on a chilly day.