Shepherd’s Pie – comfort food for winter nights

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Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie

Cold mid-winter days are great for comfort food and Shepherd’s Pie is a great option for those cold days which is why it has been a part of our winter meals since the kids were small. It was a great way to use up those extra vegetables like the last carrot, or single stem of celery and when finely chopped and put into a shepherd’s pie they didn’t recognize those ‘green’ vegetables that they didn’t care for. However, what we make and call Shepherd’s Pie is in fact Cottage Pie because it is made from ground beef – true shepherd’s pie is made with ground lamb. As a child, my mother used the leftover lamb from the Sunday roast and ground that through a hand-cranked machine similar to a modern sausage making attachment. The resulting ground meat was already cooked so we added it to the pan with lightly cooked onions.

Recipe for Shepherd’s Pie, or more correctly Cottage Pie:

For 4:

1 ½ lb ground beef

1 large onion – chopped

1 clove garlic – chopped

2lb potatoes for mashing (eg Idaho White)

Scant ¼ cup milk

A little butter


Salt & Pepper

Tomato ketchup

Beef stock

Optional items:

¼ lb chopped mushrooms

1 stem celery chopped – or other vegetables like green peppers

1 tbls fresh, chopped oregano (Greek)

Dash of Lea & Perrins sauce.

For The Mashed Potatoes

1: Peel the potatoes and cut into 1-2 inch pieces;

2: Cover with water and bring to the boil;

3: Simmer until the potatoes are soft;

4: Drain and add a small piece of butter and about ¼ cup milk;

5 Mash with fork or potato masher until smooth.

For the meat base:

The mix should be moist but not sloppy

1: Add a little oil to a large saucepan;

2: Add onions and cook until just softened;

3: Add the other vegetables and garlic and cook until softened;

4: Add the meat and break apart to evenly cook;

5: When the meat is no longer showing red parts, carefully drain off the fat;

6: Bring pan back to the stove, add salt, pepper and oregano;

7:  Add a large squirt of tomato ketchup and a couple of dashes Lea & Perrins sauce;

8: Stir gently until you have all the ingredients combined;

9: If the mix looks too dry, add a little stock.

10 Simmer for about 5 minutes.

To Assemble:

Shepherd’s Pie or more correctly Cottage Pie

1: Turn meat mix into an oven proof serving dish;

2: Spoon the mashed potato on top and spread out with fork;

  1. Add a couple of dots of butter to the top;
  2. Bake in a 375 oven, for about 20-30 minutes until the top is lightly brown and crisp.

Note: The ratio of meat mixture to mashed potato should be about 2:1.

For a true Shepherd’s Pie use ground lamb as the base and substitute mint and/or rosemary for the oregano.






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