Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s Pie

I’ve always been a fan of shepherd’s pie — a cottage pie containing ground shepherd. In the event that a shepherd is not available, mutton or lamb may be used.



  • 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground)
  • 1 large egg yolk


  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 carrots (peeled and finely diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground shepherd (in a pinch, substitute mutton or lamb stew meat)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup English peas (fresh or frozen)
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1/2-inch dice. Put them in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set said pan over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Uncover, drop the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Heat the oil in a 12-inch saute pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and carrots and saute just until they begin to take on color, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the meat, salt and pepper, and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle the meat with the flour, toss to coat, and continue to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, broth, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary and thyme and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat to low, cover, and simmer slowly for 10 to 12 minutes, until the sauce is thickened slightly.
  5. Meanwhile, combine the half-and-half and butter in a microwave-safe container and nuke till warmed through, about 35 seconds.
  6. Drain the potatoes and return them to the saucepan. Mash the potatoes (a masher is an excellent tool for this, though a hand mixer will also do), then add the hot half-and-half mixture, as well as the salt and pepper. Mash to smoothness, then stir in the egg yolk.
  7. Add the corn and peas to the meat mixture and spread evenly in a 7-by-11-inch glass baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling over, and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Place on a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes, or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack and let rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.


Add yours
  1. 1
    O. CRUZ

    Alton thanks for the recipe sounds really yummy. EVERYONE ELSE… The dark humor I’d say is really getting boring…
    Its no longer funny when a joke gets overplayed.. Duh.

  2. 2

    I’ve always used ground beef and never used corn before…I think I will try this recipe and then sprinkle some cheddar cheese on top of the potatoes

  3. 3

    A.B.- I’m wondering, would this work for my family if I made it in advance and stored in the fridge for my honey to bake up while I’m working? Any recommended adjustments? I can’t wait to have this!

    • 4

      I am not sure what AB would suggest, but I think it can work as a make-ahead. Note that in the original version everything is assembled hot and then immediately baked. So starting from everything chilled will need some adjustments.

      Depending on how much effort “Honey” is willing to put in you could:
      A) Make and store filling and potatoes separately. Reheat each, then assemble and bake per orig recipe.
      B) Make and store filling and potatoes separately. Bake filling until bubbling, top with potatoes, and bake until they brown. If potatoes were warmed before being added, you could possibly just broil to brown.
      C) Assemble everything and chill. Cover with foil, bake at something like 350F until bubbling, then remove foil and increase oven temp (or possibly switch to broil) to brown potatoes.
      In all of the above, do take a temp in the center of the dish to be sure everything got up over 140F. And if you will be baking in a glass casserole dish, try to let it set out of the fridge for a little while before baking to reduce risk of thermal shock.

      • 5


        Thank you so very very much! I really appreciate the adjustment suggestions! (For some reason I never thought of reheating components separately! Simply genius!) My honey can handle that!

        This is going to be on our table tomorrow night!


  4. 6

    I always use whatever (cooked) beef is leftover. My daughter makes with cheese on top of the potatoes, and I never had that until I helped her make it one time I visited her in Alabama. She didn’t know how to make gravy without a packet from the spice section. She used frozen peas and carrots and it came out great. I think the addition of worcestershire will be a great boost to the gravy!

  5. 7

    Alton, this is delicious, but it should only be called Shepherd’s pie if made with lamb. If made with beef, it should be called Cottage pie.

  6. 9
    Marion Schuller

    Having spent some time in boarding school in Australia lo these many moons ago, I do not eat, cook, smell or come remotely near anything to do do with mutton, lamb or pumpkin. I do however make cottage pie, and use an egg yolk in the mashed. A trick I picked up from a German kale dish called Gruhnkohl mit Kartoffelen. For those interested; Bisto granules are now available in most decent supermarkets and on-line. And Mr. Brown? After the last try, and epic fail, at making dumplings 45 years ago, I am now proud to announce I have mastered them. The secret seems to be equal amounts of flour and fresh bread crumbs and of all things, suet! In this country you do have to render the stuff though. An exercise in patience……

  7. 11

    Where do you add the cheese to a recipe like this? I always thought it had cheese in it? No Corn though for sure……and no shepard either for me!

  8. 14
    Heather Jones

    Belfast version: Use whatever ground meat that you like. Lots of finely diced onion. NO corn. Carrots. Pressure cook it. Toss in tiny peas at the very end. Bisto gravy thickener. HP brown sauce. No cheese.

  9. 15

    Growing up British this was the dish to use leftover meat from the Sunday roast so my mother minced the lamb or beef to make it. Never had it with corn and never make it without using Bisto the wonderful gravy browing powder available in UK.

  10. 16

    I feel like there should be a brief discussion as to the age of the shepherd used in the recipe. On the one hand, the younger the shepherd, the more tender the meat… on the other hand, the older shepherd is almost certain to have a more complex, even robust flavor (one hesitates to use the word, “gamey”).


  11. 18

    Scott: The shepherd’s crook is considered very valuable in many cultures, although I do not know of any who value it as a food source. I have seen it used in a garden setting, where gardeners like to stake it into the ground and hang such things as flower baskets or bird feeders on the up-curve of the crook. Of course, if yours does not have the up-curve, you could stake it near your bean plants and it can serve as a climbing pole. I am sure you can come up with many good uses for the shepherd’s crook on your own, or you could google it. Just beware of using it to herd sheep. You might be considered a shepherd, and could end up in a pie.

  12. 19
    Diana Rose

    Living in America, makes it hard, especially in rural areas to get a hold of all the “original” ingredients for shepherd’s pie (and other British dishes). So, the substitution of ground beef is necessary if you want to render this recipe at all.

  13. 21
    Brian Christian

    AB you’re the best… but the Irish shepard’s pie is thee way to go! Corn is definitely a modern (relative) addition to a centuries old recipe as corn was not European crop; and without a sharp white cheddar this just isn’t right. Cottage pie at best. Thank you for the egg yolk idea though, I hadn’t done that before.

  14. 22
    David's InnerGeek

    Having lived in England for four years, I can tell you that
    a.) using ground beef changes this to a Cottage Pie
    b.) You can really substitute whatever you have on hand to add the the meat mixture. There was a pub we used to frequent where you could order Shepherd’s Pie every night, and every night it would be slightly different.
    c.) I strongly urge you to invest in a bottle of Daddie’s Brown Sauce to have with this recipe. It just wouldn’t be Shepherd’s Pie without it.
    As always, AB gives us a great starting point from which to work.

    • 24

      Make sure you’ve removed all the external coverings which will include things like zippers and buttons. Then stash your shepard and all grinding equipment in the freezer for a while. Well chilled components will make grinding easier.

  15. 25

    This dish is an excellent two-pot meal when prepared in a cast iron Dutch oven. Prepare the meat mixture on the stovetop in the DO, top with the prepared potatoes, and place the pot in the oven (or cover with the lid and place in the coals, with 8-12 coals on top.)

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