Shepherd’s pie is one of those comfort foods that give you that warm, satisfied, cosy feeling on a cold evening.
I have chosen two recipes for great shepherds pies. The first is easy to make, takes about an hour, and is great for a weekday meal. The second uses diced lamb instead of mince, and chorizo which needs much longer to cook so is better when you have plenty of time.
Is it Shepherds or Cottage Pie?
Well, that depends on your choice of which meat to use. Shepherds pie is made with minced lamb and cottage pie with minced beef. But the method to create the pie is exactly the same.
Obviously, the best tasting pies are always those made at home from scratch.
But if you are pressed for time, the kids are driving you mad and everyone including the dog wants their dinner asap, there are a number of ways to speed up making your pie.
They are not so much cheats as shortcuts:
- Use ready-cooked mince and onion from a tin. Some of the named brands are pretty good.
- Use a seasoning mix from a packet. Saves searching through the spices and herbs rack.
- Use leftovers from the Sunday roast. Chop the meat, veg and potatoes.
- Make 2 – cook one and freeze one for next time. Just get it out of the freezer first thing in the morning and shove it in the oven in the evening.
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Recipe – Shepherds Pie
A no-frills, easy to make, perfect for weekdays recipe with the classic ingredients and flavours of this British classic.
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 2-3 medium carrots chopped
- 500 g lamb mince
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- 1 splash Worcestershire sauce
- 500 ml beef stock
- 900 g potatoes cut into chunks
- 85 g butter
- 3 tbsp milk
- Heat 1 tbsp sunflower oil in a medium saucepan, then soften the chopped onion and carrots for a few mins.
- When soft, turn up the heat, crumble in 500g lamb mince and brown, tipping off any excess fat.
- Add 2 tbsp tomato purée and a large splash of Worcestershire sauce, then fry for a few mins.
- Pour over 500ml beef stock, bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 40 mins, uncovering halfway.
- Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4, then make the mash. Boil the 900g potato, cut into chunks, in salted water for 10-15 mins until tender. Drain, then mash with 85g butter and 3 tbsp milk.
- Put the mince into an ovenproof dish, top with the mash and ruffle with a fork. The pie can now be chilled and frozen for up to a month.
- Bake for 20-25 mins until the top is starting to colour and the mince is bubbling through at the edges. (To bake from frozen, cook at 160°C/fan 140°C/gas 3 for 1 hr-1 hr 20 mins until piping hot in the centre. Flash under the grill to brown, if you like.)
- Leave to stand for 5 mins before serving.
Recipe – Shepherds Pie Spanish Style
I suppose you could call this a fusion of British and Spanish cooking. Slow-cooked lamb shoulder combined with chorizo gives this take on shepherds pie a real depth of flavour and the meat just melts in your mouth.
A nice glass of Rioja and you are all set. Just right for all those ex-pats in Marbella.
Shepherds Pie – Spanish Style
- 1.5 kg boneless lamb shoulder trimmed and diced
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 100 g cooking chorizo skinned and chopped
- 2 medium onions chopped
- 4 garlic cloves crushed
- 200 g carrots diced
- 1 small leek cleaned and thinly sliced
- 2 celery sticks diced
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 15 g plain flour
- 600 ml lamb or chicken stock
- 4 sprigs of thyme leaves picked
- 4 fresh bay leaves
- Season the diced lamb. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, flameproof casserole, add half the lamb and fry over a high heat until nicely browned all over. Spoon onto a plate and repeat with the rest of the lamb (you shouldn’t need any more oil for the second batch). Add the chorizo to the casserole and fry briefly until lightly golden. Scoop out to the plate.
- Preheat the oven to 150°C, fan 130°C, gas 2. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the casserole with the onions and garlic and fry over a medium heat for 8-10 minutes until soft and lightly golden. Add the carrots, leek and celery and fry for 5 minutes more. Stir in the smoked paprika, tomato purée and flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring. Gradually add the stock, stirring until smooth. Bring to a simmer and add the thyme, bay leaves, lamb, chorizo and seasoning. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook in the oven for 11⁄2 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the lid from the casserole and cook uncovered in the oven for another 30 minutes to reduce and thicken the sauce, by which time the lamb should be meltingly tender and just falling apart. Meanwhile, cut the potatoes into large chunks, put into a large pan of cold salted water and bring to the boil. Cook for 20 minutes until tender then drain into a colander and leave to steam for a couple of minutes.
- Melt the butter in the used potato pan, cook the garlic for 1 minute, then mash with the potatoes and parsley, off the heat. Season to taste.
- Put a baking tray into the oven and heat to 200°C, fan 180°C, gas 6. Season the lamb mixture to taste and spoon into a deep 24cm x 30cm ovenproof baking dish. Spoon over the mashed potatoes, making sure they make a good seal with the edge of the dish. Lightly rough up the surface with the back of a fork and scatter over the grated cheese.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes until bubbling hot and golden brown.