When I was young I thought shepherd’s pie was what every mom on the street made with seasoned ground beef topped with mashed potatoes. On a trip to England with my mother I ordered shepherd’s pie at a funny little cafe in London near the river and my mother never said anything. The meal was delicious and while driving away in a cab, she leaned over and said, “That shepherd’s pie was made with leftover lamb roast,” and she started to chuckle.
The pie I’d had as a kid is called cottage pie. Shepherd’s pie is made with lamb – shepherd – get it? I can hear you over there in the states… there is no cowpoke called cottage. I know.
I was a really fussy kid when it came to food. I had some physical problems with some food but with other food I was just a silly kid and that was the case with lamb. I didn’t eat venison because that was Bambi and I didn’t eat rabbit because that was Thumper and who could eat a baby sheep? I figured if I could eat it in England I could eat it at home.
People in Maine didn’t eat much lamb. It was very expensive and difficult to source leaving most families with fish, shellfish, beef, chicken or pork. That’s just how it was when we were kids. Times have changed.
Several years ago John and I trekked to Maine for a family reunion. We’d all rented cottages on a lake and we had a terrific time taking turns cooking. Both my brother and sister are really good cooks and my brother is definitely the man you want to have around when it comes to building a fire for roasting marshmallows.
Once we’d passed the jetlag, John suggested we buy lamb chops and cook them on the grill one night. I went to the local Lebanese butcher who specializes in lamb and ordered enough for 12 people. The amount I bought would have cost maybe $25 in Australia (in Australian dollars at the time) so when I saw the bill I nearly fell over. It was $112.50. I looked at John and said, “These had better be perfectly cooked or I’m going to slit my throat.”
In my previous post the other night, we had a slow roasted lamb shoulder rubbed with super ras el hanout from Herbie’s Spices . We had heaps left over so I thought it was about time that I made a real shepherd’s pie.
I looked around the net to find a recipe that wouldn’t be dry and I found one. It’s Jamie Oliver’s recipe filled with onion, carrots, celery and tomatoes. I promise you whether you use his version with lamb mince or mine with leftover lamb roast, you’ll thank me. I added 2 tablespoons of tomato paste because I thought the dish needed it.
John’s 92 year old dad is visiting with us and he ate so much of this that I thought he would pop. Whoever said old people have lousy appetites should meet this guy. He’s every cook’s dream. He loves whatever you put in front of him.
He spent the entire afternoon potting up a new herb garden for me. I think he wants to be sure good food will continue.
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 sticks of celery, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- a small bunch of fresh rosemary
- olive oil
- 500g leftover lamb roast minced or lightly whizzed in a food processor
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 2 tbs tomato paste
- 250ml lamb or vegetable stock (I used chicken stock because it was what I had)
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1.5k potatoes
- 100ml milk or cream
- 2 tbs butter
- Peel and roughly chop the onion and carrots
- Trim and roughly chop the celery
- Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves
- Pick the rosemary leaves, discard the stalks
- Heat a large pan on a medium heat
- Add enough olive oil and onion, carrot, celery, garlic and most of the rosemary leaves. Lightly season with salt and pepper.
- Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened
- Turn the heat up, add the leftover lamb that has been minced or whizzed.
- Tip in the tinned tomatoes
- Pour in the stock and tomato paste then bring to the boil
- Reduce to a low heat, leave the lid on but slightly ajar, and simmer for 1 hour until most of the liquid is gone.
- Peel the potatoes, cut them into halves and quarters depending on their size, and put them into a pan of cold salted water
- Boil for about 10 - 15 minutes until tender
- Stick a knife into them to check they’re soft all the way through
- Drain in a colander and return them to the pan
- Add the milk or cream, butter and a pinch of salt and pepper
- Mash until smooth and creamy
- Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF
- Place lamb mixture to a large ovenproof baking dish
- Spoon the mashed potatoes evenly over the top and poke the remaining rosemary leaves into the top
- Drizzle with olive oil, then cook in the oven for 25 minutes or until golden and bubbling
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Good morning Maureen,
As I said in your previous post, lamb is so under used in the US and I’m not sure why. I too always thought Shepherd’s Pie was ground meat and mashed potatoes until I visited an Irish Pub many years ago and to my delight was served “real” Shepherd’s Pie. Huge difference and delicious to boot!
I chuckled to myself when I read about John’s dad’s appetite. Marion could eat all day and not just “junk” food. I wish I had her appetite sometimes, lol…Thanks for sharing the recipe. It really sounds like I remember…
I know. I’m still swooning over seeing that Coco Lopez on your blog. I want some!
I will gladly send you some, Maureen. I wonder if there is a way to make your own. If not, I’ll pick some up for you.
hehehehehe!! This one had me chuckling all the way down. I have always thought Shepherd’s pie should be made with lamb. I am not a lamb fan, and I don’t eat beef, so I have tried it with chicken and love it anyway. But this version – I can have it any day. It looks so gorgeous. Yummm…..you added tomato paste. I would add some red chili powder, lol!! But this looks awesome. I am so hungry. That’s what happens when you haven’t had breakfast and come across something so full of calories and comfort.
Rob can’t deal with anytime spicy so it was tomato paste at my house but next time I’ll try the chili powder. 🙂
Lamb really is expensive in the US – mainly because most people don’t eat it. Not even in west Texas, where they raise the stuff – there they consider it “dirty” and hanker after goat instead (they raise sheep in Texas mainly for their wool). Anyway, I love lamb – it’s probably my favorite red meat – but don’t eat it all that often, alas. Your Shepherd’s Pie looks terrific. And it’s a dish I haven’t had in ages – and will, when the weather turns cooler. Oh, and my father is 92 also, and also eats like a horse! And absolutely has to have dessert after a huge meal – while all that the rest of us want is a nap! Fun post – thanks.
I didn’t have lamb when I was growing up because my mom considered everything from a sheep ‘mutton’ and didn’t care for it. It’s also quite pricey here in south-western Ontario. However, now that I’m an adult, I can buy/eat whatever I want and I can buy frozen ground lamb for $7 a pound, which is about what I have to pay for farm raised salmon on sale.
I made some excellent lamb skewers a week or so ago using it and cooked them on the bbq. They ended up wrapped in pita breads with tzatziki sauce.
No pictures though cause my camera has been loaned out.
I just brought another package home today and I’d love to make this with it rather than thawing and cooking that lamb leg. I even have rosemary growing in the garden that I can use. I’m just wondering how big your ‘can’ of tomatoes was. It’s difficult to translate can sizes internationally. 🙂
My friends absolutely love lamb as does my dad and brother, this shepherd’s pie is so delicious looking!
Dear Maureen, Lamb has not gotten any cheaper!! It is truly a treat if you eat lamb!!
My brother is a good cook too. I always think he is the best cook actually and I tell him so too. He cooks from the heart.
I do love this and yes my mother made this too. It is hearty a delicious.
It is fun when someone enjoys and appreciates your cooking. It energizes you to want to cook more.
Blessings my dearest. Catherine xo
The Café Sucre Farine says
I think I too would eat so much of this I’d be in danger of popping, It sounds wonderful Maureen and really glad you didn’t slit your throat 🙂 John must have done good that night!
Anne ~ Uni Homemaker says
I love Shepherd’s Pie! I always made it with ground meat because it’s quick. I’ll have to plan ahead next time and use leftover roast lamb or beef. This looks divine. Love the drizzle of olive oil and rosemary on top. Delicious!!!
Ashley Ng says
Wow! I can’t believe how much more Lamb is in the states! Yikes! I do remember walking around a few markets though while there and seeing a lot of New Zealand lamb though I guess!
Do love a good shepard’s pie, especially with this weather at the moment! 🙂
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
Your looks so tasty and comforting; I love the rosemary garnish!
I love Sheperd’s Pie. Best I ever had was in Oxford, England. However, I bet if I tasted your recipe today it would be the best ever. Looks great.
Nusrat Azim says
O God ! Have mercy upon me !
The vivacious look and inviting smell of this pie is killing me !
Say ‘hello’ to the sweet dude who made you the herb garden 🙂 I’d like to invite him to have supper with me in my herb garden 🙂
I will and he’ll laugh. I was in a cookware shop yesterday and before I knew it he was flirting with the shop assistant! I said, “Rob, were you flirting with her??” He laughed and said, “Only a little.” I don’t think there’s much danger at 92.
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
This looks so perfect for the layers of clothing that I just changed into! And wow I can imagine your shock when you got the bill at the butcher’s! 😮
Love the rosemary sprigs peeking through!
Joanne T Ferguson says
G’day! I love Shepherd’s Pie too!
And wonder now WHY we didn’t have it when I was little while living in the US too!
I could use some new love with my FB page …as recently did update…
If people could show some love to What’s On The List on Facebook…like YOUR photo and recipe…would be GREAT! Thank you!
Barbara @ Barbara Bakes says
Such fun stories. I hope I’m eating tons of delicious shepherds pie at 92.
How lovely to have your father-in-law there to plant herbs for you!! What a trooper! 🙂 No wonder he’s so happy to help you with scrumptious food from you to delight his tummy. 🙂 I didn’t know until I read your post that I’d been eating cottage pie my whole life too. 🙂
Lizzy (Good Things) says
God bless John’s 92 year old dad! Love the story behind this recipe, Maureen… oh, and please pass me a fork!
Rob ate it all! It’s 8:11am and he’s sitting downstairs. I went down to let the dog and cats out and he said, “Anything on the menu for breakfast or is it porridge with bananas?” I think that translates to “porridge with bananas is ordinary.” That’s what John cooked for him the other day.
Hotly Spiced says
Yes, I have a cookbook that taught me the difference between a Shepherd’s Pie and a Cottage Pie. I’ve always made my Shepherd’s Pie from lamb mince but that’s probably because around here there are few leftovers! How lovely to have a new herb garden. When the 92-year old finishes your edible garden, he’s very welcome down here – we have a lot of gardening projects! xx
I’ve never had shepherd’s pie with anything other than lamb (which is so tasty – how can anyone not like lamb?!) because beef mince always went into spaghetti bolognese in our house. How amazing that you have such an active 92 year old father-in-law – I guess it means that you will have your hubby around for some time yet!!
Claire @ Claire K Creations says
Looks like the perfect winter warmer Maureen. We would have gotten along great as kids. I was even fussier! Love the sound of something that uses up leftovers too. I always thought they were the same thing too!
David Crichton says
Leftover lamb roast is the only way to make a shepherds pie. Do you put cheese on top of it though, or is that a cottage pie only?
Kari @ bite-sized thoughts says
I grew up with vegetarian shepherd’s pie so I have to confess I’d never thought about the distinction between shepherd / lamb and cottage / beef either. It does make sense though! Either way, it is a perfect winter dish.
I love Shepherds Pie, it was always a great standby with my children. They would all eat bowl after bowl of it 🙂
I featured a cottage pie on my blog a while back and when I went to name it.. that’s how I found out the difference between Shepherd’s and Cottage pie. It’s understandable when shepherds have flocks of sheep… not cows. 🙂
I love anything comforting like this… sign me up for two helpings. 🙂 Have a great weekend.
Thanks Ramona. Looks like it’s going to be cool and rainy here. I’ll probably stay inside. 🙂
Nami | Just One Cookbook says
Am I the only one who never had both Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie AND I didn’t even know the difference… =P I want to try shepherd’s pie one day!
Nami, I’d be happy to make one for you. Come on down!
Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking says
There really is no better comfort food than a traditional shepherd’s pie. Yours looks so delicious and inviting, Maureen!
I think you’re right, Georgia. It’s winter and that meal was really good.
I need to make this for Bill! He loves cottage pie, and this is a great way to use up leftover lamb (though we rarely have leftovers when I make lamb!) Thanks for the terrific recipe.
John is a meat eater and so is his dad but a whole shoulder of lamb is more than the 3 of us could eat. 🙂
Now that is what I call a PROPER shepherd’s pie, and I LOVE the rosemary poking out of the mashed potatoes too! Karen
That is high praise indeed coming from you, Karen. I almost feel like doing a superior dance. 🙂
Shema George says
This shepherds pie looks amazing. I love how you have stuck those rosemary sprigs in the potato layer…I will do that next time I make it ..I love rosemary.. Loved reading your story too as usual 🙂
I only did that because Jamie Oliver did it and then drizzled it with good olive oil. It was a good idea.
Maureen, this is the perfect dish for winter! I don’t think I’ve ever made cottage pie with mince, only ever with leftover roast beef, and shepherd’s pie with leftover roast leg of lamb. Your take on it looks and sounds divine. Pete’s mum used to flavour her shepherd’s pie with Vegemite – very Aussie indeed! 🙂
LOL no Vegemite in this yank’s dish. I think you have to learn to eat it as a toddler. 🙂
Kimby | a little lunch says
Maureen, the only Shepherd’s Pie I’ve ever eaten (or tried to) was at a college cafeteria — sort of their thinly disguised “whatever was left from the week” casserole covered with instant mashed potatoes. (!) This sounds much more enticing — and hilarious. “Shepherd’s” Pie = sheep (or lamb) — duly noted. Still laughing!! 🙂
Rachel Cotterill says
I love shepherd’s pie, but as a vegetarian, I make it with lentils. So to me it doesn’t make much difference whether it’s shepherd or cottage… it’s delicious, either way 🙂
Norma Chang says
I too love the rosemary decorations, how clever. Lamb is very expensive in my area, may be that’s why it is not popular.
John’s Dad sounds like a lot of fun to cook for, how thoughtful of him to make you a herb garden.
Norma Chang says
Sorry I cannot like your post, I am not on facebook.
no worries, Norma!
This has long been a family favourite in our house, although I haven’t made it for ages. It might just reappear on the table this coming week now that I’m reminded – thanks Maureen. Although I never add tomatoes – we save those for spag bog!
Me either but Jamie’s recipe called for it and I LOVED it. It wasn’t tomato saucy as you can see in the photos.
I’ve enjoyed shepherd’s pie in a number of restaurants but never made it for myself. Your recipe sounds very good, Maureen, and though it may not exactly be the weather for it here now, it will be cool again soon enough. I’m going to pin your recipe so it’s handy this Fall. Thanks for sharing.
yes, its perfect for winter and I loved Jamie Oliver’s recipe. I just had to tweak it just a little bit.
Jennifer @ Delicieux says
Your shepherds pie looks perfect. And John’s Dad sounds like my husbands father in law. He’s 96 and wow, can he put away food! It’s amazing, and so wonderful to see.
okay, your husband’s father-in-law is your dad? 🙂 round about way of putting it LOL
Bam's Kitchen says
If I were John’s father, I would eat anything that you put in front of me too as you are such an awesome little chef! I like your addition of tomato paste and also your little herb sprouts “planted” in the mash potatoes. Wishing you an awesome weekend. Take Care, BAM
Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen says
Yikes! I’d have fainted at that bill. It would have been about 50 quid in Ireland where the lamb is par excellence. Shepherds Pie is one of my favourite comfort foods, though I normally make it with raw lamb mince. Love your version with the cooked leftover roast (although having leftover roast could be a real problem as both my husband and I love roast lamb). I love the rosemary-spiked presentation of this dish, Maureen. Have a great weekend!
Australian lamb is pretty good. The American lamb was a bit tougher but still – very good. I’m definitely making this again.
Lisa the Gourmet Wog says
Gosh I hope I can eat everything at 92! What a trooper!
I love this type of recipe, it has so many veggies mixed in, it really is a balanced meal 🙂
I want to enjoy food like he does, Lisa!
OH my your Shepherds Pie looks amazing…yikes I call my ground beef recipe shepherds pie I guess what I’m really making is cottage pie! This is a favorite winter meal for us!
I did the same thing, Sheila. Now I know. 🙂
Helene D'souza says
There is a general confusion between Shepherds pie and cottage pie as you mentioned. I used to confuse it too until Rosa explained the difference. Who knew it was the lamb meat? lol
You need to make this recipe once for me with rosemary!! looks grande Maureen.
EA-The Spicy RD says
Thanks for clearing up the difference b/w cottage and sheppards pie! I am still not a fan of lamb, mostly because I still think of that cute little lamb like you did as a kid, but also because I don’t care for the taste, although I did have some lamb chops (prepared by a Lebaneses friend) that were very delicious-maybe because they were almost charred! I’d love to try this recipe, but will probably switch out the lamb to beef, bison, or turkey and call it EA’s Pie 🙂
When I moved to Australia I knew I would need to cultivate a taste for lamb. I just started small and now it seems normal. 🙂
Whoops! I called my Shepherd’s Pie with beef and Chorizo a Shepherd’s, not a cottage pie. I’ve never had a true Shepherd’s Pie which is surprising since I LOVE lamb. I can’t imagine paying only $25 for enough lamb to feed 12 people, but the $100+ sounds like the prices here. I guess that’s why we don’t eat it much. I would love to make this some day because it looks delicious! Great winter comfort food!
InTolerant Chef says
This is the real deal indeed Maureen! We love lamb and eat a lot of it- I even make lamb bacon 🙂
It was and I loved it!
We love this kind of homey, rich, one-casserole dish and make similar all winter long. But not quite a Shepherd’s Pie which I have always wanted to make. Oh my husband must make the French version of Parmentier but your’s sounds divine! I bet making this with that ras al hanout slow cooked lamb added marvelous flavor!! And with all the vegetables and the tomato paste (right you were!) this is the perfect meal. Now I want it, too.
Because John’s dad is with us I didn’t use a very heavy hand with the spices but it was really good.
I seriously adore Shepherd’s pie, the dish is beyond fabulous! I love that you used lamb, so beautiful, Hugs, Terra
Mary Frances says
I love, love, LOVE Shepherd’s Pie!!! Thank you for this beautiful lamb recipe!!! I’m gonna make it in September or October here (in the States).
Memories of my Cornish heritage! This is on the menu for tonight! I will be using leftovers from yesterday’s roast lamb (par excellent)! Ooolala… I can’t rate until I taste it, however it ertainly looks fabulous. Thank you.
I made this again last night with leftover slow roasted lamb shoulder. I love it.
As a staunch Lancastrian (North England) I am very strict as to Shepherds Pie recipes, I have made it pretty much the same way as my Mum and my Grandma taught me for over fifty years now (always goes down a treat. But I am a adventurous cook and I have tried Jamie’s so had to give yours a go! yum yum and yum, only addition was a few chilli flakes as mentioned earlier in this post. Thank you, it didn’t last long in mi casa.
? why is lamb so expensive in US? I bought a 4kg lamb leg joint (bone in) on Friday for $22 AUS, we got two roast dinner meals out of it (Sat/Sunday) , a big pot of lamb veggie and lentil soup, and a v large dish of your pie (food for 4/5 days) great value!
P.S. I simmered the leg bones in with the sauce, cant waste that flavour.
You are making me hungry!!
Lamb is expensive here in the Northeastern U.S. because most of it is imported from Australia or New Zealand. You can also buy it from U.S. farms that produce small volumes of grass fed meat. I bought a 2 lb lamb leg at Trader Joe’s for $17.50, which is definitely pricey when compared to the same amount of organic chicken, but, if you consider how many meals that can be made out of it, it’s worth it. There are 2 eaters in my house so we will get at least 4 servings and a lot more when you turn the leftovers into a new meal. My grandmother passed down a recipe for Shepherds pie (she was from New England) but I cannot wait to try this delicious looking one. I’m sure it will be tasty. Thanks for sharing!