Tale #45 Shepherd’s Pie

It’s cold. 13 days before pay day. The beast is broke. The beast is hungry. None of this is a revelation.
I was in the John Shandoe book store by Sloane Square on Saturday, pretending to be a posh Chelsea urbanite, as one does, and came across Jane Grigson’s collections of books creatively titled: Jane Grigson’s Fish Book, Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book and Jane Grigson’s English Food. Very clever, Jane.
Reading the English Food book got me thinking that meat pies are really not that difficult to make and given the beast’s affinity for hearty English cuisine, this is something worth exploring. Avoiding the sometimes troublesome task of making shortcrust or suet pastry, Shepherd’s Pie is by far the simplest meat pie to concoct. Now would be the time to point out that I didn’t actually use Jane Grigson’s recipe (though she was my muse) and there are a variety of ways to make Shepherd’s Pie. The next way I choose will definitely involve wine.



For the pie filling:

  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil (I used vegetable and I’m pretty sure it was fine)
  • 1 large onion, chopped (I used 1/2)
  • 2-3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 500g pack lamb mince
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • large splash Worcestershire sauce
  • 500ml beef stock
  • Salt to taste

For the mash crust:

  • 900g potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 85g butter
  • 3 tbsp milk

Chop the onions and carrots


Heat the oil in a medium saucepan, then soften the onion and carrots for a few mins.


When soft, turn up the heat, crumble in the lamb and brown, tipping off any excess fat. Add the tomato purée and Worcestershire sauce, then fry for a few mins.

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Pour over the stock, bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 20, uncover for last 20 minutes of cooking.

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Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180C/ fan 160C. Make the mash. Boil the potatoes in salted water for approximately 15 mins until tender. Drain, then mash with the butter and milk.

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Put the mince into an ovenproof dish, top with the mash and ruffle with a fork.  Bake for 20-25 mins until the top is starting to colour and the mince is bubbling through at the edges. Leave to stand for 5 mins before serving.



Amazingly, the pie can now be chilled and frozen for up to a month if you don’t feel like eating it now. To bake from frozen, cook at 160C/fan 140C/gas 3 for 1 hr-1 hr 20 mins until piping hot in the centre. Flash under the grill to brown if you like a crunchy top. Leave to stand for 5 mins before serving.


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3 thoughts on “Tale #45 Shepherd’s Pie

  1. Sarah’s most hated meal – try adding frozen peas, makes it really sweet. Also we did a cottage pie last week but instead of mash used dauphinose potatoes as the topping, it was amazing.

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