Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s Pie

use either ground lamb (which makes it Shepherd’s Pie), ground beef, which makes it Cottage Pie
Intermediate | 1 HR active, 45 MIN baking | 8 Servings

You can use either ground lamb, which makes it Shepherd’s Pie, ground beef, which makes it Cottage Pie, or ground turkey which makes it – I have no idea.

It took me forever to realize it was called Shepherd’s Pie because shepherds herd sheep, not cows, and definitely not turkeys! I can be a little slow sometimes. Can somebody please tell me what cottages have to do with cows?


The base

  • 1 pound ground lamb, or beef, or turkey
  • 2 tablespoons organic olive oil
  • 1 small/medium onion, small dice – keep separate from other ingredients after dicing
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 diced celery
  • 2 diced carrots
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt or Himalayan salt
  • 1 teaspoon Marilyn’s Essence
  • 2 tablespoons pastry flour or gluten-free flour mix
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup homemade beef bone broth for lamb or beef, chicken broth if you’re using turkey or used broth from a box.
  • There are some lovely quality broths on the market now.
  • ¾ cup frozen peas

Mashed Potatoes

  • 1 ½ pounds Yukon gold or red potatoes, peeled (or not - for Rustic potatoes) and cut into 1” cubes • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup half-and-half or heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • Optional: 1 pinch black pepper, freshly ground


Sauté the veggies

Using a 12-inch sauté pan, start with cooking the onions.

Put the 2 tablespoons olive oil into the sauté pan and heat it till it shimmers. Put the onions in the pan and season with a little salt. Sauté the onions until they are translucent, rich, and creamy looking. This can take up to 10 minutes. Add a little water every so often as the onions cook, just enough to prevent burning, but not enough water to boil them. Stir regularly.

When the onions are well cooked and all the water is gone, add the garlic and cook until you get that lovely garlicky aroma.

Now add the carrots, celery, and 1 teaspoon dried thyme. Sprinkle with a bit more salt and stir. Add a splash of water and put the lid on the pan. Stir regularly and cook until the carrots and celery are tender. Not mushy, not crunchy, just tender throughout.

Add the meat and finish cooking the filling

Add the ground meat of choice, a sprinkle of salt, and 1⁄2 teaspoon Marilyn’s Essence. Stir regularly to break it up and cook until the meat is browned and cooked through – about 3 to 5 minutes.

Now sprinkle 2 tablespoons flour over the meat and veggies and stir, cooking for another few minutes. Next add 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, and 1 cup of broth, beef if you’re using lamb or beef, chicken broth if you’re using turkey.

Stir and cook on medium-low heat until the mixture thickens, then add 3⁄4 cup frozen peas to the mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Put the meat and veggie mixture into an 8 x 8 baking pan.

Preheat the oven to 400º

Make the mashed potatoes

My preference is rustic mashed potatoes for this dish, which are not peeled, but that doesn’t float everyone’s boat so it’s up to you if you want to peel them or not.

Fill a 2-quart pot with water a little more than halfway and add 1 teaspoon salt. Put the potatoes into the pot of room temp water and bring to a gentle simmer over medium-high heat. When they start to simmer keep reduce the heat to low-medium, which will give you nice, silky potatoes.

When the potatoes are fork-tender drain them in a colander, then put them back into the pot and while they are still hot, smash with 1⁄2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter and 1⁄4 cup milk or half and half.

Season with salt to taste, and if you like, a little freshly ground black pepper. If you’d like a very smooth texture to the potatoes put them through a ricer, but note the ricer isn’t going to work for the rustic potatoes with the skins on. Those are just smashed with a fork or one of those potato masher tools.

Put it together

Spread the potatoes over the top of the mixture in the pan. My favorite tool for this is an offset spatula but a knife or back of a spoon will do just fine.

Bake it

Put the 8 x 8 baking pan on a rimmed sheet pan and place on the middle shelf in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes start to brown.

The meat and veggie mixture should be bubbling a bit. Let this sit for about 15 minutes or so before serving.

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