This traditional shepherd’s pie is a British comfort food classic loved by all. Ground lamb is cooked with vegetables and Guinness for an extra flavor boost, then topped with fluffy mashed potato and baked.
Did you know that real shepherd’s is made with ground lamb and not beef? The name makes sense if you think about it. Lamb is a sheep and a shepherd is a person who tends to sheep, hence the name. The pie made with beef is traditionally called cottage pie, made by the poorer people who lived in cottages from leftover beef. Both pies derive from the 18th Century, but as time has gone by, beef has becoming increasingly popular and more widely used than lamb, and so the recipe using beef is now commonly known as shepherd’s pie. This recipe is made the traditional way using ground lamb, but if you are not a lover of lamb, use ground beef.
I like to add Guinness to my shepherd’s pie. Over the years of making this, I found gives it that extra depth of flavor you just cannot get without it. The topping is made using mashed Yukon gold potatoes as they make for soft and creamy mashed potato. I have been known to add a small rutabaga to the mash which takes it to a new flavor level, if you would like to try. As an extra bonus, the dish makes a little gravy as it cooks so you can reserve it and use for spooning over the top when serving.
I like to make this recipe in a 10-inch cast iron skillet (or oven-proof sauté pan) that be transferred to the oven. If you don’t have a cast iron or oven-proof skillet, you can start this recipe on the stovetop in whatever pan you have that will work then transfer to a casserole dish of about the same size to finish in the oven.
This dish is also a perfect make ahead meal. Just make up to the point of baking, but don’t bake. Allow to the dish to cool, cover and refrigerate until ready use. When ready to serve, preheat oven to 350°F and bake for 25 minutes until the top is browned.
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