Shepherd’s pie is authentic pub food, so there isn’t a way to get it wrong. The base formula is as follows:
Ground lamb topped with mashed potatoes.
There ya go! Enjoy!
Okay, so if you want a little more detail, this is how I do it.
First of all, if you use ground beef or ground bison, it’s not Shepherd’s Pie. It’s Cottage Pie. It’s the exact same recipe…just different meat, as says Ben and Wikipedia: “The name “shepherd’s pie” was first used in the 1870’s, an older name is “cottage pie”. People in the UK today usually call the dish “shepherd’s pie” if it is made with lamb (because a shepherd looks after sheep). The name “cottage pie” is used if the dish is made with minced beef.”
The term cottage pie is known to have been in use in 1791, when the potato was being introduced as an edible crop affordable for the poor (cf. “cottage” meaning a modest dwelling for rural workers). In early cookery books, the dish was a means of using leftover roasted meat of any kind, and the pie dish was lined with mashed potato as well as having a mashed potato crust on top. The term “shepherd’s pie” did not appear until 1877, and since then it has been used synonymously with “cottage pie”, regardless of whether the principal ingredient was beef or mutton. More recently, the term “shepherd’s pie” has been used when the meat is lamb, the theory being that shepherds are concerned with sheep and not cattle.”
Shepherd’s Pie is a pretty British food, so it’s not going to be terribly complicated. You can make it complicated, because that’s how Americans are in the kitchen, but I wouldn’t suggest it. Here are ways you can mess up Shepherd’s Pie:
- Use ground turkey
- Use ground chicken
- Use ground pork/sausage
- Use yams /sweet potatoes instead of potatoes
- Include cheese.
I have actually tried the sweet potato variety of this dish, and although it turned out “okay,” it wasn’t Shepherd’s Pie. And apparently I can’t make myself like sweet potatoes, so that was out just on merit.
Okay, so let’s get cooking British food. You need:
- Russet potatoes or Red potatoes
- Ground lamb
- Fresh rosemary
- Garlic powder
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- 1 large yellow onion
- 1 can organic stewed tomatoes
- 1/2 cup milk
First, set your oven to 400F
Then get some potatoes going. Now, you can either put your washed, peeled potatoes in the pressure cooker for 10 minutes, or you can boil them in a pot on the stove forever. It’s up to you. Either way, you need to cook the potatoes in order to mash them.
Now, in a large pan (like, a 14″ pan), start browning the ground lamb. Add the kosher salt, garlic powder, fresh rosemary, ground pepper, the can of undrained stewed tomatoes and the diced yellow onion. Cook this until the lamb is done, so about 7 – 10 minutes.
Spoon the meat out of the pan and put it into your baking dish. Keep as much juice in the bottom of the pan as you can. When you’ve done that, add about 3 Tbsp of cornstarch into the pan with the milk and whisk until it is thick and turns into gravy (about 3-4 minutes). Then pour this on top of the meat and mix it in a little.
Then take the mashed potatoes and mix in a little kosher salt, pepper and garlic powder. Then spoon this on top of the meat and smooth out. Spray the top with Pam so it can get nice and crispy on top, and put this dish into the oven for about 20 minutes.
Serve with Guinness or Smithwicks.