Get Warm and Cozy with This Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

by Pamela

shepherd's pie, ground lamb recipes, how to make shepherd's pie

I recently got back from a 10 day trip to Europe and I’m still finding new calluses on my feet (I know, no one feels sorry for me….yes, Craig you were finally right about something are you happy now (no one feels sorry for me), I’ve officially put it in writing for all the world to see.) that even the Rock of Gibraltar probably couldn’t get rid of.  And right now I’m too damn broke to go get a pedicure and get those things melted off my feet with that magic goo those women have in those weird bottles (Hey, we’ve all gotta die from something right, at least my feet will look pretty.  My will states that I will be buried in my sexiest peep toe pumps that I own at the time of my demise.  Remember, it’s much better to look good than to feel good.)

The last couple of days of the trip were spent in London.  While Craig was hunkered down in some meetings. I was galavanting around town meeting some of my blogger friends like Cook Sister and I am a Feeder.  Yes, that’s the deal we have…he sits in boring meetings while I have fun.  That’s what our household mission statement has evolved into.

While London isn’t exactly known for its phenomenal food, I did have quite a few delicious things to eat while I was there.  The fish and chips, natch, Shelpherd’s pie and curry.  Yes, London is home to some truly delicious curry houses.  I had mine at a neighborhood pub (not your traditional English pub by any stretch) and was thrilled with all of the flavors and textures in the bowl.  I promise that you will be seeing me re-create that dish here on the blog.

ground-lamb-recipes Individual Sheherds Pie

But the first thing I knew I wanted to make when I got home was a shepherd’s pie that I had at a different pub.  If you haven’t figured it out yet, I don’t go for the high end restaurants when I travel (a la Gordon Ramsay et al), I really like to eat more local/traditional foods.  Besides, if I want Gordon Ramsay, I can go to his restaurant in LA.

My first step towards making this was learning how to make a shepherd’s pie.  There’s a couple of different ways you can do it.  Should I make the pie with, or without, a crust?  Not a tough decision for me…of course I needed to use a crust.  So the crust recipe I used is one that I’ve posted several times already.  It’s simple, doesn’t take a lot of ingredients and it always comes out tender and flaky.

The shepherd’s pie I was re-creating was a ground lamb recipe that wasn’t necessarily made in the traditional way, but had been modernized a bit.  When I saw that it had red wine in it, as opposed to beer, I knew it would be a winner.  I always serve any of my lamb recipes with red wine (usually something on the dry side).  They did top theirs off with the usual mashed potatoes.  I lightened mine up a bit with a parsnip and potato mash.

Learning how to make a shepherd’s pie really isn’t that much different than making a fruit pie.  You’ve got crust, filling and topping.  It just seems a bit weird to make a savory  pie.  Once you get past that you need to figure out if you’re going to make one big pie or a bunch of small ones.  I opted to make individual shepherd’s pies.  Call me a lemming…but since everything else seems to be going the way of the single serving size I thought I would jump on the bandwagon with these.  Also, since it’s a ground lamb recipe I think it makes the pies look a bit more appealing, when it’s in miniature form.  If it was sliced meat, instead of ground, I’d probably make the larger pie (the piece of pie would look nicer on the plate with the layering of the meat slices than just a blob of ground lamb).  Plus, as we all know, if something is smaller than three inches, there are no calories in it.  DUH!

Oh, and if you want to check out another version of a savory pie (get your mind out of the gutter), check out what my friend Jackie made over at Jackie Writes.

Relationship Advice

For all of you out there who are in the throes of love, with hearts and flowers floating around your heads and delusions of grandeur in your heads (also known as being engaged) here’s a little piece of info no one tells you.  You can thank me later for this heads up.

Just like in business, your relationship has an organizational chart.  When it’s just the two of you together…and everything is still shiny and new, the org chart is flat.  It’s you and him with just a horizontal line between you.  But after you’re married it looks more like this.  And while you may think this is fantastic, because you’re in charge of everything, guess again.  I promise you that one day you’ll be running around the house in your underwear…huge cup of coffee or martini in your hand (depending on what time of day this happens to you) screaming “Why don’t they just listen to me – I have an org chart that says I’m in charge??!!!”  (My therapy rates are $100/hour…consider this a freebie.  Also know, that I’ve been known to work in barter for my services.)

Family-Organizational-Chart

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Recipe: Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Cup Chilled Unsalted Butter – 2 Sticks (cut into pieces)
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 2 Tablespoons Half and Half (or milk)
  • 3/4 Cup Finely Grated Parmesan Cheese

For the potatoes:

  • 3 Large Russet Potatoes (peeled and diced)
  • 3 Medium Parsnips (peeled and diced)
  • 1/4 Cup Half and Half
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper to taste

For the ground lamb filling:

  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 3/4 Cup Carrots (peeled and diced to small pieces)
  • 1 Cup Chopped Leeks (cut in half lengthwise then cut across into thin half moon slices)
  • 2 Cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 1 1/4 Pounds Ground Lamb
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
  • 2 Small Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
  • 2 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Red Currant Jelly
  • 1 Cup Red Wine (preferably a dry wine like Syrah or Zinfandel)
  • Heavy Squirt of Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Instructions

  1. In a medium size bowl whisk one egg and half and half together until thoroughly combined and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of your food processor add the flour, salt and the pieces from one of the sticks of butter.  Pulse until butter disappears into flour mixture.  Next add the second stick of butter pieces and pulse again until butter disappears and what is left is fine crumbles.
  3. Pour flour/butter mixture into the egg and half and half.  Whisk to combine (yes, that is enough liquid to do that).  You only need to whisk until the dough is damp and holds together when you squeeze it in your hand.Add the cheese to the dough and stir to combine.
  4. Knead the dough a few times, in the bowl, until it all comes together into one large piece.
  5. Separate the dough into two equal pieces and wrap with plastic wrap.
  6. Place in the refrigerator for at least one hour or up to 2 days.Let the dough sit on the counter for 15 – 30 minutes to become workable.  When rolling out the dough, make sure you have a well floured surface.
  7. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Farenheit.
  8. Place potatoes and parsnips in a medium saucepan and fill, until covered, with cold water. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Once they are boiling, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and easily crushed, approximately 15-20 minutes.
  9. Place the half-and-half and butter into a microwave-safe dish and heat until butter is melted, around 30 seconds.
  10. Drain the potatoes and parsnips in a colander and return them to the saucepan. Mash the potatoes and add in the half and half, butter, salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth.
  11. While the potatoes are cooking, you can make the filling.
  12. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to a large saute pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the carrots and saute until they begin to take on color and just begin to soften a bit, roughly 5-6 minutes. Add in the leeks and stir to combine. Continue cooking for about 5 more minutes or until the leeks begin to brown a bit at the edges. Then pour the carrots and leeks into a bowl and set aside.
  13. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the hot pan and add the garlic. Stir until the garlic begins to brown and then add in the ground lamb, thyme and rosemary sprigs. Cook the lamb until it is browned and cooked through (4-5 minutes).
  14. Drain the meat as best you can and add back the carrots and leeks.
  15. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and mix it in to coat, continuing to cook for another minute or two.
  16. Add the Worcestershire, red currant jelly and wine and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 7-10 minutes or until the sauce is slightly thickened. There won’t be a lot of sauce, just a slight bit, so don’t be concerned if you aren’t seeing pools of liquid.
  17. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  18. Cut a slice of lemon and squirt over the top of the mixture.  Stir to combine and taste.  Add lemon to your taste (I ended up using about 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice when I made this, but this is really up to your liking).
  19. Remove the rosemary sprigs.
  20. Spray a muffin tin with olive oil and set aside.
  21. Roll out the dough to roughly 3/16″ thickness and cut circles that are wider than the size of each muffin cup (I used a standard size muffin tin and cut 4″ diameter circles of dough).
  22. Tuck the dough rounds into each cup and trim off any excess dough that sticks up beyond the top of the tin.
  23. Fill each dough cup with filling to just below the top of the dough.
  24. Top with the mashed potatoes. You can get creative and pipe on the potatoes with a star tip (very pretty) or you can plop them on top or make a smooth layer of potato. You don’t have to worry about sealing the edges because there isn’t a lot of sauce to bubble up and pour over the edges of these.
  25. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the potatoes begin to brown.
  26. Remove from the oven and let cool for roughly 15 minutes before serving.

Quick notes

I made 24 individual pies with this recipe and I used a standard size muffin tin.  When serving, each person got 3 pies.

Variations

If you don’t want to cook with alcohol, you can replace the red wine with chicken stock.
Preparation time: 90 minute(s)
Cooking time: 45 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 8
Culinary tradition: English
My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)

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9 comments

Jon February 3, 2013 at 8:58 am

Please don’t think I’m having a snipe since you’re clearly a passionate lady. However, I wonder if you may have missed London in a state of desynchronosis. As one of the most cosmopolitan cities, it rates as a foodie capital of the world. Also, as with your arancini de riso, you are at liberty to do what you like with a Shepherd’s Pie but please forgive me for finding your version absurd, if for no other reason than you have no homemade stock; and I’ve never heard of using beer. Finally, please do not incorrectly associate British food culture with Gordon Ramsey and by no means are his restaurants ‘high end’. If you say he has a set-up in LA, well quite frankly, that’s the best place for him (I’m aware that he has one in Stansted airport, next to Macdonalds). All said, Craig is evidently a lucky chap.

Pamela February 3, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Hi Jon,

Did not take your comment as a snipe at all. I love the feedback!

While I do love London, from a culinary standpoint my love of the city is for the more traditional foods like fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, mushy peas (if I could have eaten peas like that here in the states when I was growing up, I probably would have eaten many more of them) and pints at the pub. The other favorite foodie highlights for me are the many, and varied, ethnic foods that can so easily be found around the city. Here in the states, the different ethnic foods are found mostly in certain areas only, and not as interspersed as they are in London.

Did I take some liberties with my Shepherd’s pie? Yep…I did. But that’s half the fun of cooking. Working from a base recipe and changing it up to make it more personal.

Trust me…I do NOT associate British food culture with Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver or Heston Blumenthal. No, a food culture is much bigger (and has more history behind it) than that of any chef that hails from that country and is a current media fave.

Thanks for stopping by the site Jon. I hope you poke around a bit more and maybe give some of my recipes a try. If you’ve got one you’d like to share with my readers, email me. I’ll make it up, photograph it, post it up and credit it to you. If you’ve got a story behind the recipe, so much the better and I’ll tell it to my readers. 🙂 CHEERS!

Jackie Baisa October 26, 2011 at 12:21 pm

This sounds like the perfect comfort food! Love it. 🙂

Pamela October 26, 2011 at 12:25 pm

As does yours. I love rabbit!

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