What’s a good family meal to whip up on a cold winter night? A good classic British Shepherd’s Pie would make a fantastic pick! Featuring a layered savoury lamb mince and mashed potatoes, served with gravy, shepherd’s pie is one of the ultimate British comfort foods that everyone would enjoy. It’s an English household staple but also comes with many varieties and has plenty of room for you to add your own spin to it. For me, a good shepherd’s pie should have a rich-flavoured slow-cooked mince topped with a firm but fluffy mashed potato layer. It should be firm enough to hold up its shape, as a pie should, but still moist & juicy in both texture & taste. In this classic lamb shepherd’s pie recipe, I’ll show you exactly how I make it and share with you all my tips!
Shepherd’s Pie vs Cottage Pie
You probably have heard about cottage pie and know that they are two very similar dishes. What’s the difference between a Shepherd’s Pie and a Cottage Pie? Both are British classics and the difference just comes down to the choice of meat. Shepherd’s pie uses minced lamb and cottage pie uses minced beef – as simple as that. Shepherds look after sheep so it’s quite obvious in the name that shepherd’s pie uses lamb. Everything else, including cooking techniques & toppings, is exactly the same apart from the meat.
How to make a classic halal English Shepherd’s Pie (no alcohol)
Ingredients for Shepherd’s Pie
- Minced lamb
- Soffrito – finely chopped onions, carrots & celeries
- Red Chillies – optional
- Tomato Paste
- Dried Rosemary, Dried Thyme, Bay Leaves
- Lamb/Beef Stock
- Peas – frozen peas are fine
- Potatoes – Maris Piper or King Edward potatoes
- Milk, Butter, Cheddar Cheese
- Egg Yolks – the secret to a golden crust
Cooking Tools You Need
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- Adding chillies is completely optional. We like to have a mild kick of spice with our food but you can totally omit it if you prefer.
- Traditional English Shepherd’s Pie uses a dash of red wine to deglaze when cooking the meat. To keep it halal, I use a dash of beef or lamb stock instead of alcohol.
- When simmering the meat, keep it at low heat so that you can get a richer flavour and retain a moist texture.
- After simmering, the liquids should have reduced and the mince should turn out to a thick & moist consistency. If the mixture is still rather liquidy, cook for a little longer until it slightly reduces. A sloppy meat base wouldn’t be able to hold up the pie and may even collapse when serving.
- Make sure to use floury potatoes to make the mash. Maris Piper or King Edward potatoes would be the most ideal (or Yukon Gold & Russets for Americans). Avoid using waxy potatoes such as baby potatoes, white potatoes, red potatoes, etc. These waxy potatoes would result in a very gummy mash which is not ideal.
- Watch out for the consistency of your mashed potatoes. You’d want to aim for a fluffy but firm texture so that the shepherd’s pie wouldn’t turn out too sloppy.
- Adding egg yolks to the mash helps to give the top layer of the Shepherd’s Pie a golden crust and glossy finish. This technique was introduced by Dominic Chapman, featured on Great British Chef.
- Got guests to impress and want to make the pie look pretty? Try using a piping bag and pipe the mashed potatoes into different patterns!
Classic British Lamb Shepherd’s Pie
- 1 Heavy Bottom Pot
- 1 Oven Dish
- 1 Piping Bag & Nozzle optional
- 1 tbsp Cooking Oil
- 500 g Minced Lamb
- 400 g Soffrito (mix of finely chopped onions, carrots & celeries)
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 3 Red Chillies optional
- 2 tbsp Tomato Paste
- 1 tsp Dried Rosemary
- 1 tsp Dried Thyme
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 550 ml Beef/Lamb Stock
- 1 cup Frozen Peas
- 1 kg Maris Piper Potatoes cut into chunks
- 4 tbsp Whole Milk
- 1 cup Cheddar Cheese shredded
- 2 Egg yolks
- Salt & Black Pepper to taste
- Gravy to serve
- Heat cooking oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook the minced lamb for about 5 minutes until browned.1 tbsp Cooking Oil, 500 g Minced Lamb
- Turn the heat to medium. Add in the soffrito and saute for another 4-5 minutes until the vegetables are golden & softened.400 g Soffrito (mix of finely chopped onions, carrots & celeries)
- Add the garlic & chillies (if using). Cook for about 2 minutes until fragrant.2 cloves Garlic, 3 Red Chillies
- Stir in the tomato paste, then season with dried rosemary and dried thyme.2 tbsp Tomato Paste, 1 tsp Dried Rosemary, 1 tsp Dried Thyme
- Deglaze with about 250mL of the beef/lamb stock for a few minutes until reduced.550 ml Beef/Lamb Stock
- Add in bay leaves and the rest of the beef/lamb stock. Turn to low heat. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes.2 Bay Leaves
- Mix in the frozen peas and cover to cook for another 10-15 minutes. Season with salt & pepper to taste.1 cup Frozen Peas, Salt & Black Pepper
- While the mince filling was cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil and season it generously with salt. Cook the potatoes for 12-15 minutes under softened.1 kg Maris Piper Potatoes
- Remove the cooked potatoes from the pot. Season with salt & black pepper and add in milk, butter, and cheddar cheese. Mash everything together until smooth.1 cup Cheddar Cheese, 4 tbsp Whole Milk
- Then add and mix the two yolks into the mash.2 Egg yolks
- Preheat your oven to 200°C.
- Bring out a large oven dish and spread the mince into a layer. Top it with mashed potatoes and smooth it out. Use a fork to score a few lines on the mash. (Tip: if you want to make the pie look pretty, use a piping bag to pipe the mashed potatoes on top of the mince)
- Put the dish into the oven and bake for about 30 minutes until the top is golden.
- Allow to cool down for 10-15 minutes, then serve warm with gravy.Gravy
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