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Dec 4, 2012 05:46 PM

Shepherd's Pie - must it have ground meat?

OK I know the controversy, and yes, this one will be lamb (although I grew up with beef).J
I'll be making a large amount for 25 guests who are feeling nostalgic. Normally I might think of braising lamb shanks and shredding the meat, using the drippings for gravy etc but I can't fathom dealing with that many shanks in my under-ventilated kitchen. So then there's the thought of using finely cubed shoulder, but now I hear many folks just have expectations of shepherd's pie being made with ground meat. What do you think? Should I braise a few shanks just for the gravy aspect? How much meat? There will be plenty of appies, salads and sides, but this is the main "hot" course.
Thanks so much.
Oh and any great recipes appreciated!

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  1. Use the process you described for the shanks on the shoulder instead. Braise it and shred it. You will get the same benefits of gravy from your braise.

    1. Does not need to be ground meat. From what I understand like so many really yummy dishes it is a leftover dish. How soon are you having all the guests?
      If I was doing this I would have a practice run and fool around with the recipe. I like to make a lamb or beef stew (or even mix the two meats) but with no potatoes. Rich gravy, peas, mushrooms and carrots. Then top with a generous amount of mashed potatoes and bake. Some people like to sprinkle some grated cheese on top so that the potatoes brown nicely.
      A local bbq place used to sometimes make shepherd's pie with leftover smoked pulled beef. That was pretty good. I've also made this dish with leftover pot roast. Sounds like everyone will have their own idea of what shepherd's pie should consist of so I vote you please yourself.
      Let us know how it turns out.

      1. Lamb shoulder is a wonderful cut for braising. And of course Lamb shanks are as well. Not sure what you mean by "make the gravy with the drippings" though. If you braise, you will be braising with a liquid so that liquid would become the gravy. It would be delicious.

        You could of course do both shoulder and shanks for a mix of the flavor and texture. This sounds like the beginning of a very delicious shepard's pie.

        1. There's no law about how any dish should be prepared so if you want to use cubed shoulder that'll work. It won't be a traditional shepherd's pie, of course - that only uses minced lamb - but it will just as tasty.

          1. Shepherds pie should be easy and not fancy! Though braised lamb shanks sound great -

            while the following is technically a cottage pie - it would taste great with lamb (braised or ground).
            If you use ground lamb, after you brown the lamb, take it out of the pan, add some butter and flour and then add some broth, store bought is fine - beef, chicken or lamb if you can find it.

            Dice carrot, sauté in butter, add beef, brown, scoop out fat, in another pan cook butter and flour, after five min add beef or chic broth, make gravy, add to beef, add worsted hire and ketchup and dry thyme, taste for salt.... Add frozen peas, top w mash and bake till some orange bubbles up around the edges