Easy Shepherd’s Pie
With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, our thoughts start drifting to classic Irish foods, like Shepherd’s Pie. There are few meals that make my family happier than a meat and potatoes meal – and when the meat and the potatoes co-exist in one homey comfort food, let’s just say happiness and goodwill abound.
What is Shepherd’s Pie?
Shepherd’s pie is a layered pie or casserole. The bottom is usually a mixture of cooked minced or ground meat, usually lamb, mixed with vegetables. This pie was actually created in Ireland as a way to use up leftover lamb over a century ago, in the spirit of economy (a similar pie exists in England, called Cottage Pie, but that version uses beef). The name Shepherd’s Pie come from the fact that a shepherd looks after sheep or lamb; you get it. The top is a thick layer of mashed potatoes. And in this this recipe, the mashed potatoes get even richer and more indulgent with a bit of cheese blended in.
Ground Lamb Shepherd’s Pie
This version of Shepherd’s Pie calls for ground lamb, readily available in most supermarkets. If you have a tight relationship with your butcher, ask him or her to grind it fresh.
Shepherd’s Pie: A savory ground lamb and vegetable filling topped with cheesy mashed potatoes is the ultimate Irish comfort food.Tweet This
Cheesy Mashed Potatoes for Shepherd’s Pie
Shepherd’s Pie is traditionally topped with mashed potatoes. And while plain old mashed potatoes are delicious – CHEESY mashed potatoes are just all that much more rock-and-roll.
I picked two cheeses to blend into creamy mashed potatoes to give them that extra pop of flavor and the slightest of cheese pulls when you lift up a forkful of the pie. Plain havarti for its delicate creamy freshness, and sharp aged cheddar for its tangy richness. Seriously I thought the boyfolk in my house might weep. Also this pie says serves 6….but that night it served 3.
Using Leftover Lamb in Shepherd’s Pie
While ground lamb makes this a pie to make any night of the week, do think of this recipe any time you make a roast of lamb, whether it’s a shoulder or a leg or a loin. Try very hard to make sure there are leftovers, and then dice them finely and use them in this comfort food pot pie.
Shepherd’s Pie Ingredients
- Lamb – you can use ground lamb, or chopped leftover lamb. And if you prefer beef or another ground meat, go for it.
- Potatoes – these will be mashed with some milk, butter and cheese for the topping. Feel free to double the topping if you want extra cheesy mashed potatoes for another meal later in the week; the reheat easily on the stove or in the microwave.
- Vegetables – these add heft, nutrition, flavor and color to the filling. I use very traditional vegetables and aromatics in my Shepherd’s Pie: chopped onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and some fennel which adds brightness and a slight anise-ey flavor. And then at the end, a mixture of peas and corn is added, which add even more color and texture.
- Milk, chicken broth and flour – these ingredients are the base of the sauce, which pulls the filling together,. The little bit of flour thickens the sauce.
- Seasonings: Thyme, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper elevate the flavor of the pie.
How to Make Shepherd’s Pie
Cook the potatoes. While they are simmering, brown the lamb, then set aside
Sauté the vegetables in the same pan you used to cook the lamb. Add the flour and stir until it coats the vegetables about 1 minute. Stir in the lamb, and then 1/2 cup of the milk and the broth and cook until the liquid thickens and coats the mixture as sauce. Stir in the corn and peas, and season with salt and pepper. Add the Worcestershire sauce and continue cooking for 3 minutes. Turn the mixture into a 9-inch deep dish pie pan.
Mash the potatoes with the remaining 3/4 cup milk and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Stir in the cheddar and havarti, season with salt and pepper and stir to blend well. Spread the mashed potatoes evenly over the lamb mixture in the pie pan. Use a spoon to make nice wavy peaks and valleys in the potatoes.
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes until the top is set and a bit colored. If you want the top a bit more browned you can run it under the broiler for a minute or two. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
What to Serve with Shepherd’s Pie
- Best Parmesan Roasted Broccoli
- Chopped Winter Salad
- Roasted Asparagus with Creamy Lemon Dressing
- Roasted Broccolini with Lemon
- Light Green Crunchy Salad
- Tomato, Avocado and Cucumber Salad
Other beefy, cheesy dinner recipes:
- Cheesy Beef and Hash Brown Casserole
- Cheesy Ground Beef Quesadillas
- One-Skillet Cheesy Beef and Macaroni
- Simple Baked Pasta with Bolognese Sauce
- Instant Pot Ziti “Lasagna” with Bolognese Sauce
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- 3 large all-purpose potatoes peeled and halved (about 2 pounds)
- Kosher salt to taste
- 1 ½ pounds ground lamb
- 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter divided
- 1 cup chopped onion
- ½ cup chopped carrots
- ½ cup chopped celery
- ½ cup chopped fennel
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 ¼ cups whole milk divided
- ½ cup chicken broth
- ½ cup fresh or frozen corn
- ½ cup fresh or frozen peas
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ cup shredded cheddar
- ½ cup shredded havarti
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Place the potatoes in a medium-sized saucepan and add cold water to cover. Salt the water, then place over high heat until the water simmers. Lower the heat to medium-high and continue to simmer, partially covered, until the potatoes are very tender, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, spray a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray and heat over medium high heat. Add the lamb and cook, stirring frequently to break up the meat, until brown and crumbly, about 5 minutes. Turn into a colander and carefully wipe out the skillet.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in the same large skillet over medium high heat, and when it is melted, sauté the onion, carrots, celery, fennel, garlic and thyme and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes until the vegetables are lightly golden and tender. Add the flour and stir until it coats the vegetables about 1 minute. Stir in the lamb, and then 1/2 cup of the milk and the broth and cook until the liquid thickens and coats the mixture as sauce, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Stir in the corn and peas, and season with salt and pepper. Add the Worcestershire sauce and continue cooking until everything is well combined and hot, about 3 minutes. Turn the mixture into a 9-inch deep dish pie pan.
- Drain the cooked potatoes. In the saucepan you used to cook the potatoes, heat the remaining 3/4 cup milk and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter until barely simmering. Put the cooked potatoes through a food mill, a ricer, or use a potato masher to mash and add them to the simmering milk. Stir in the cheddar and havarti, season with salt and pepper and stir to blend well, until the cheese is melted and incorporated. Spread the mashed potatoes evenly over the lamb mixture in the pie pan. Use a spoon to make nice wavy peaks and valleys in the potatoes; the peaks will then get nicely browned and beautiful in the baking.
- Bake for 15 minutes until the top is set and a bit colored. If you want the top a bit more browned you can run it under the broiler for a minute or two, but keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t get too brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Using Leftover Lamb in Shepherd’s PieWhile ground lamb makes this a pie to make any night of the week, do think of this recipe any time you make a roast of lamb, whether it’s a shoulder or a leg or a loin. Try very hard to make sure there are leftovers, and then dice them finely and use them in this comfort food pot pie.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.