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Feb 19, 2007 03:27 PM

Shepards pie

My mum used to cook shepards pie for us as kids and I dont think Ive had it since. Its been on my mind recently (that crispy mashed potato on top) and was hoping someone might help me out with a tried and true recipe. Thanks!

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  1. Can you describe your mother's recipe a bit? There are so many variations of this dish, I've found. I use cubes of leftover cooked lamb; some cooks make it only with ground beef. Someone here will likely have a recipe close to what your mom used to make.

    1. If it's made with lamb, it's Shepherd's Pie...if it's made with beef, it's Cottage Pie. :) Here's a link to the recipe for Shepherd's Pie that's the best I've ever had:

      3 Replies
      1. re: wyf4lyf

        The link above is pretty much the way I recently made shepherd's pie w/ venison (!) -- after sauteeing the meat and removing to drain, I cooked onions (no carrots) in butter, added meat, and cooked the wine down, then added tomato paste and flour, then simmered in stock for 30 mins or so. Thyme, no rosemary (though would work w/ lamb I suppose)

        Taters w/ warmed cream & milk, and two egg yolks. I added a layer of thawed corn sandwiched between, which was recommended by a chowhound (thanks!) I had trepidations due to . . . bambi . . . but it was mighty tasty.

        Leftover stewed meat should also work fine, whatever the resulting name of the dish!

        1. re: wyf4lyf

          My Mum always makes shepard's pie with beef, and she was born in and lived in Nottingham until she was 27.

          Grandma made it with beef, Great Grandmum, Grand Auntie, Aunti Val, Great Aunt Rose....

          Nary a one mentioned cottages. I can see the whole sheep/shepard connection..but that's a new one on me!

          Mum always browned the freshly ground beef with onione and parsnips and carrots. Then she added a little beef broth or water, or someitmes beer. The put that in a cassarole (she had a great pyrex one Great Grandmum used a round crock thin, I'm told), and covered the top with mashed taties that had been boiled and mashed beforehand. She used a fork and ran it over the taties to make little ridges that got extra crispy. Then she baked the whole thing till golden.

        2. I like to make it as leftover braised lamb stew, with a potato topping, which I think is probably its original manifestation. This would be made from a braised, or pot-roasted, lamb shoulder, which is not often done in the US. It would incorporate diced cooked lamb, the cut-up vegetables from the braise (carrots, peas, perhaps turnips) and gravy, mixed to a loose hash consistency, then topped with freshly mashed potatoes and baked until nicely browned on top and hot through.

          The best of these I've made was the aftermath of trying a very old and only somewhat succesful (from the modern viewpoint) recipe for a simmered leg of lamb, called Gigot de Sept Heures. As I had suspected, the result was a very fine broth, some tender but not too flavorful meat, some okay vegetables and an unhappy wife. The shepherd's pie I made from it the following night took care of all of those things.

          1. Shepherd's Pie is my all time favourite comfort food. yum. Recently though I have been using lean minced beef (I know, that makes it Cottage Pie) and adding leeks and mushrooms to the recipe. Here in the UK my friends and I make it all the time, as you can really use what vegetables you have at home (of course the classic recipe is with carrots and peas) and its not expensive at all to make.

            1. I like to add a little grated cheddar to the potatoes before baking, that helps the top get crispier.