There are almost as many different ways to cook a Shepherd's Pie as there are cooks in the world, there is no set recipe. So feel free to adjust our recipe for your own favourite herbs and vegetables.
Alternative vegetables include leeks, celery, mushrooms or turnips. The topping should be crisp and sprinkling a little grated cheese over the mashed potato does the job extremely well. However if you are on a diet or reducing your cholesterol, then simply leave the cheese out.
SHEPHERDS PIE FILLING
450g / 1lb minced lamb
2 medium onions
80g / 3oz carrots
80g / 3oz swede
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
3 good shakes of Worcestershire Sauce (Lea & Perrins)
1 level tablespoon of flour (plain or self-raising)
2 garlic cloves
1 level tablespoon of tomato puree
2 tablespoons of olive oil
275 ml lamb or vegetable stock
POTATO & CHEESE TOPPING
900g / 2lbs white potatoes, King Edwards or Maris Piper are best
55g / 2oz Cheddar cheese
50g / 2oz butter
Salt and Pepper
Finely chop the onion and garlic.
Chop the carrots and swede into small pieces.
Finely chop the parsley.
Peel the potatoes, cut them into quarters and put them in a pan of salted water to stop them going brown.
Grate the Cheddar cheese
Pre heat the oven to 200°C / Fan 180°C / 400°F / Gas Mark 6, slightly lower for fan-assisted ovens.
Pour the olive oil into the frying pan on a medium heat and add the chopped onions. Cook for about 12 minutes turning the onions frequently until they are softened.
Add the carrots and swede and cook for a further 5 minutes turning the mix frequently. Remove them from the pan and keep them on a plate for use later.STEP 2
Add the lamb to the pan (you may need to do this in two batches) and keep stirring and turning the meat until it is browned. Break up any pieces of the mince which are stuck together.
When all the meat is browned, add the vegetables, chopped garlic, parsley, thyme, cinnamon, Worcestershire Sauce, stock and tomato puree. Sprinkle on the flour and mix well.STEP 3
Turn the heat down to low, put a lid on the pan and let the mix cook for about 35 minutes. Stir it every ten minutes and add a couple of tablespoons of water if the mix is starting to stick to the pan. Taste and add salt and pepper as required.
While the pie filling is cooking put the potatoes in simmering water on a medium heat for 25 minutes until they are cooked.STEP 4
Drain all the water from the potatoes and then leave them to stand for 5 minutes with no lid (or just a tea towel) on the pan. Add the butter and mash the potatoes to a puree. This will take at least two minutes.
Pour the meat into the base of the oven proof dish, just over half deep is ideal.STEP 5
Spoon the mashed potato gently over the meat and even it out gently. Don't use too much pressure or the mash will disappear into the meat rather than staying on top of it. A small amount of mash at a time works best.
Fluff up the mash topping with a fork and then sprinkle the cheese over the top.STEP 6
Put the dish in the pre-heated oven and cook for 30 minutes turning the dish round once after 15 minutes.
The Shepherds Pie is ready when the cheese and mash on top turns a golden brown.