Good Shepherd’s Pie

Good Shepherd’s Pie

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I didn’t know I liked shepherd’s pie until I tried it years ago at a local Irish pub, called Nana’s. 

But truth be known, I’ve never had a traditional shepherd’s pie. What I had at Nana’s was not a shepherd’s pie at all. It was a cottage pie because the filling was made with ground beef instead of lamb. 

Not only that but the filling of what they listed on the menu as “Good Shepherd’s Pie” was topped with red smashed potatoes with the option to add cheese and hot sauce on the side. 

good shepherd's pie on plate

It wasn’t just any hot sauce. Theirs was a secret homemade recipe. It was hot and spicy, but it had so much flavor! I’m glad hot sauce came on the side so I could sparingly drizzle it over the top of the melted cheese or dip into it with every other bite. Lord have mercy, I loved it!

Sadly, with the challenges of last year, the owners decided to close the restaurant. David and I were heartbroken to learn the news. We had a lot of fun times there, down in the tiny basement bar, and we ALWAYS enjoyed the delicious food.

Since I no longer can get my beloved Good Shepherd’s Pie from Nana’s Irish Pub, I decided to try and replicate the recipe. After some trial and error, I came up with this recipe that I am going to share with you now!

What is Shepherd’s Pie?

Shepherd’s pie is a hearty baked casserole made of layered ground lamb filling with mashed potatoes on top.

Traditional shepherd’s pie originates in England. Most American’s associate it as being an Irish dish and while the Irish do indulge in this delicious “pie”, they cannot take credit for its origin. It’s also a dish very popular in Australia and New Zealand. 

What’s The Difference Between Shepherd’s Pie & Cottage Pie?

The difference between shepherd’s pie and cottage pie is the meat. Traditional “Shepherd’s” Pie gets its name because it made with ground lamb while Cottage Pie is made of ground beef. Not to be mistaken with meat pie, which is nothing like either of them.

ingredients to make good shepherd's pie

The Filling Ingredients and Variations

A detailed list is provided in the recipe card at the end of this post

The combinations of textures and flavors are what makes this shepherd’s pie so good! Here’s a rundown of what’s going on in the filling. I have provided variations in case you don’t have an ingredient in your pantry or refrigerator.

  • Olive Oil: this is my oil of choice, but any cooking oil will do.
  • Yellow Onion: They are hardy, and their flavor complex with some spice that stands up to the lamb.
  • Vegetables: chopped carrots, peas, and corn. I like to use raw carrots cooked with onion and lamb. However, you can purchase a medley of corn, peas, and carrots in the frozen food section, if you desire.
  • Ground Lamb: I made this recipe with both lamb and beef. In my opinion, the gamey taste of the ground lamb offers more flavor than the ground beef. If you don’t like lamb then by all means use ground beef or even ground venison. 
  • Herbs: fresh parsley, thyme, and rosemary.
    If you don’t have fresh, use 2 teaspoons of dried parsley, and 1 teaspoon of each of dried rosemary and thyme.
  • Seasonings: Kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper, minced garlic, and Worcestershire sauce
  • All-Purpose Flour: flour thickens up the filling.
  • Tomato Paste: not only does tomato paste helps thicken the filling, but it adds color and enriches the flavor of the sauce. It’s important to brown the tomato paste in the skillet, to intensify the flavor.
  • Beer: Guinness beer is my salute to Nana’s. Guinness lends a new dimension to this dish. It provides richness by adding a mellow roasted flavor to the filling that beef broth can not provide. However, beef broth is the next best substitute.
smashed potatoes on sheet pan

The Smashed Potato Layer

Mashed potatoes traditionally top shepherd’s pie. However, mashed potatoes normally involve melted butter, milk, and cream and not to mention a lot more work.

Instead, I use red skin potatoes that are “smashed” not mashed just like Nana’s. Red skin potatoes keep their shape but are still creamy. I love the texture the chunky potatoes give this pie. Not to mention the gooey melted cheese that pools inside all those nooks and crannies! 

You will notice in the video and potatoes that I used larger ones. They didn’t work as well as the small baby potatoes I used when originally testing this recipe.

The Toppings 

Last but not least, the gooey cheese and spicy hot sauce are what bring this pie altogether. They really make all the difference in this shepherd’s pie and send it over the top!

  • Cheese: At Nana’s cheese was an option, but I say shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese is a MUST! The creamy melted cheese turns a light golden brown and crisps up on the edges of the pie giving it a boost of flavor.
  • Hot Sauce: Nana’s hot sauce was so unique. I’d run myself stupid trying to replicate it based on memory. Cholula is good enough for me. It doesn’t matter what hot sauce you use, just use some for a touch of spicy heat!
meat filling for good shepherd's pie cooking in skillet

How To Make Good Shepherd’s Pie

The Potato Topping:

  1. Boil the potatoes in a heavily salted pot of boiling water for 20 minutes; drain well.
  2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Dump the drained potatoes out onto the prepared sheet pan. Smash the potatoes with the bottom of a measuring cup or glass; set aside. 
ground lamb cooking in skillet

The Meat Filling: 

While the potatoes are cooking, make the meat filling.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until they are tender, stirring occasionally; about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant.

When the onions are tender, add the ground lamb (or beef) to the skillet, breaking it apart with a spatula or spoon. Add in the parsley, rosemary, thyme, and season with salt, and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste. Cook the meat mixture for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally until the meat browns.

Stir in the Worcestershire sauce. Cook for 1 minute. Then add the flour and tomato paste. Stir until well incorporated and no clumps and the tomato paste has browned and turns a rust color.

Stir in the beer or broth, frozen peas, and frozen corn. Bring the liquid to a boil then reduce to simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Set the meat filling aside and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Assemble the Casserole:

  1. Pour the meat filling out into a 9×12 baking dish, spreading it out into an even layer. 
  2. Use a spatula to transfer the potatoes on top of the meat filling. Place them so they cover the filling evenly. 
  3. Sprinkle the potatoes evenly with the shredded cheese. 
  4. Bake uncovered for 30 to 35 minutes until the cheese has melted and starts to brown slightly. 
good shepherd's pie on plate

Cool and Serve The Good Shepherd’s Pie:

Allow the casserole to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving and DON’T FORGET THE HOT SAUCE!

pouring hot sauce onto good shepherd's pie

FAQs

  • Can I make Shepherd’s Pie ahead? Yes, in fact, I encourage it!

    To Make Ahead: Prepare the filling, the smashed potato topping. Allow it to cool to room temperature, then top with the shredded cheese. Cover with foil or air-tight cover and refrigerate until needed.
  • Can you freeze shepherd’s pie? Yes, but I don’t recommend freezing it with the cheese on top.

    To Freeze: I don’t recommend freezing it with the cheese on top. Make the filling and the potatoes, then assemble the casserole inside a freezer-safe dish. Cool it down to room temperature. Seal tightly and freeze for up to 2 months.

    To Reheat: When ready to eat, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake covered with foil for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, top with cheese, and bake for an additional 20 to 30 minutes, or until the cheese starts to brown and the casserole has warmed through.

    Defrosting in the refrigerator overnight can reduce the reheating time.
  • Can I make it in smaller size portions? Absolutely! Divide it up evenly into smaller baking dishes or pans.

WATCH HOW TO MAKE GOOD SHEPHERD’S PIE

I’m so proud of how this recipe came out. I believe you will love it too!

good shepherd's pie on plate
Print Pin Rate this Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Good Shepherd’s Pie

Good Shepherd’s pie is a hearty baked casserole made of layered ground lamb, smashed potatoes and cheddar cheese. Don't forget the hot sauce!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword casserole, Lamb, Shepherd’s Pie
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 318kcal

Ingredients

The Potato Layer:

  • 1 pound baby red skin potatoes washed

Meat Filling:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup yellow onion chopped
  • ½ cup carrots chopped
  • 1 ground lamb or ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped (2 tsp. dried) + extra for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary minced (t tsp. dried)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme minced (1 tsp. dried)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup Guinness beer or beef broth
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • ½ cup frozen corn kernels

Toppings:

  • 2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese shredded
  • Hot Sauce (optional) We use Cholula but use your favorite

Instructions

The Potato Topping:

  • Boil the potatoes in a heavily salted pot of boiling water for 20 minutes; drain well.

The Meat Filling:

  • Meanwhilte, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until they are tender, stirring occasionally; about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant.
  • When the onions are tender, add the ground lamb (or beef) to the skillet, breaking it apart with a spatula or spoon. Add in the parsley, rosemary, thyme, and season with salt, and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste. Cook the meat mixture for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally until the meat browns.
  • Stir in the Worcestershire sauce. Cook for 1 minute. Then add the flour and tomato paste. Stir until well incorporated and no clumps and the tomato paste has browned and turns a rust color.
  • Stir in the beer or broth, frozen peas, and frozen corn. Bring the liquid to a boil then reduce to simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Set the meat filling aside and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Dump the drained potatoes out onto the prepared sheet pan. Smash the potatoes with the bottom of a measuring cup or glass; set aside.

Assemble the Casserole:

  • Pour the meat filling out into a 9×12 baking dish, spreading it out into an even layer.
  • Use a spatula to transfer the potatoes on top of the meat filling. Place them so they cover the filling evenly.
  • Sprinkle the potatoes evenly with the shredded cheese.
  • Bake uncovered for 30 to 35 minutes until the cheese has melted and starts to brown slightly.
  • Allow the casserole to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving and DON’T FORGET THE HOT SAUCE!
    Garnish with chopped fresh parsley, if desired.

Notes

To Make Ahead: Prepare the filling, the smashed potato topping. Allow it to cool to room temperature, then top with the shredded cheese. Cover with foil or air-tight cover and refrigerate until needed.
To Freeze: I don’t recommend freezing it with the cheese on top. Make the filling and the potatoes, then assemble the casserole inside a freezer-safe dish. Cool it down to room temperature. Seal tightly and freeze for up to 2 months.
When ready to eat, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake covered with foil for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, top with cheese, and bake for an additional 20 to 30 minutes, or until the cheese starts to brown and the casserole has warmed through.
Defrosting in the refrigerator overnight can reduce the reheating time.

Nutrition

Calories: 318kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 40mg | Sodium: 328mg | Potassium: 624mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 2519IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 307mg | Iron: 2mg
Did you try this recipe? Tell us what you think!Give this recipe a star rating, leave a comment below and share pictures of your food with us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter! We can’t wait to see them! Don’t forget to mention @TheMountainKitchen or tag #TheMountainKitchen!
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4 thoughts on “Good Shepherd’s Pie”

  • 5 stars
    Great recipe, I love the idea of smashed , cheesed spuds vs mashed. Wouldn’t it be great if, since Nana’s is now closed, the owners decided to bottle and sell their wonderful hot sauce! I’d support that! Or perhaps they would consider giving up the recipe!

  • 5 stars
    OMG. This is dish is delicious and so easy to make. The kitchen is smelling pretty good too!! The smashed potatoes is a winner. The next time I make it I will add garlie to the potatoes.

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