mum’s shepherd’s pie

April 13, 2010

Mention Shepherd’s Pie and you will have me instantly thinking of home and specifically, my mum. This was her dish; the one my older brothers asked for when they came home to visit; the one everyone made murmuring noises over as they ate.

It’s also pretty traditional English fare and so it has pride of place on this blog. This version is adapted from Gordon Ramsey’s recipe and combined with memories of how my mum made it. I don’t remember my mum ever using red wine in hers but I like to cook with it so I took that adaptation along with some fresh herbs since we had them and came up with this.

The smell of everything simmering away after the worcestershire sauce, herbs and wine have been added is enough to transport me home every time.

Shepherd’s Pie
adapted from Gordon Ramsey’s Recipe via Channel 4 and my mum


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb ground organic, lean beef
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 large carrot, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • a handful of thyme sprigs, leaves picked
  • 1 sprig of rosemary, needles chopped
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 2 pounds or 3 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Parmesan, for grating


1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. Heat the oil in a large pan until hot. Season the beef and fry in the oil over moderate to high heat for 2-3 minutes. Stir the onions and carrot into the beef and add the garlic as well. Add the Worcestershire sauce, tomato puree and herbs and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Die of delicious-fume overdose. Pour in the red wine and reduce until almost completely evaporated. Add the chicken stock, bring to the boil and simmer until the sauce has thickened.

3. Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until tender. Drain then return to the hot pan over low heat to dry out briefly. Mash the taters and then beat in the egg yolks, followed by about 2 tbsp grated Parmesan. Add salt and pepper.

4. Spoon the beef mixture into the bottom of a large ovenproof dish, using a slotted spoon so as not to transfer too much juice, as this will make the tats sink. Using a large spoon, layer the mashed potato generously on top of the meat, starting from the outside and working your way into the middle. Grate some extra Parmesan over and season. Add dabs of butter to the mash, if you wish, and fluff it up with a fork to make rough peaks. Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, until bubbling and golden brown.

5. Serve with your choice of vegetable. Whole roasted carrots make an excellent addition. We had roasted asparagus.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Gab* April 14, 2010 at 2:30 am

Yum. It's certainly getting closer to comfort food weather here in Australia, might have to make some shepherd's pie soon! We always make it with beef mince too.


Erica April 14, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Its actually kind of beautiful! I love dishes that remind me of my mama and I'm sure you're the same way :) Thanks for the info about starbucks- totally taking advantage of that tomorrow!!!!!


Janetha April 14, 2010 at 2:56 pm

i saw you FB about the pie! it looks sooooooooo good! i think i need to make some shepherd's pie soon.

love you, lady!


Susan April 14, 2010 at 3:55 pm

I've never heard of putting egg yolks in mashed potatoes!! I like that, those yolks often get so neglected ;)

My mom never made Shephard's Pie, but I used to go to a friends place for lunch when I was in elementary school and her grandfather always made it for us. It was SO good.


Katie April 15, 2010 at 8:13 am

I've never made ANYTHING like this before. I am going to try it out this weekend! My husband will be swooning, I'm sure. Thanks!


Kelsey April 15, 2010 at 9:27 am

just found ur blog and i must say- your really beautiful! great blog <3


Holly April 15, 2010 at 1:17 pm

yes please. there is nothing more yummy or satisfying than shepherd's pie. true fact.


Kristin @ Iowa Girl Eats April 16, 2010 at 9:04 am

This looks SO SO SO good and homey…and comfy. What a great dish!


Kate February 16, 2013 at 8:34 pm

I keep coming back to this recipe, it is so awesome!
Except my house is a veggie house, so we sub the meat for lentils, and add lots of chunky, savory mushrooms.

Have you seen this recipe? It reminds me a lot of your shepherd’s pie. (Minus the dumplings, of course. And everyone prefers mashed potatoes anyway! ;)


Jens March 17, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Great recipe. It also reminded me of my days growing up in London til I was 18 and then whisked away to Austin, Tx. The reduction took longer than I anticipated, but that was not a problem at all. I also put this in a loaf pan and it was a perfect serving for 4 folks.


Maj July 24, 2013 at 9:24 am

Looks really good but surely this is Cottage Pie not Shepherd’s Pie.


Roe August 3, 2013 at 11:18 pm

You’re right, Shepherd’s Pie is made with minced lamb, Cottage Pie is minced beef.


kathryn June 22, 2014 at 12:06 am

I would make with lamb not beef and use Lamb Oxo cubes to make the stock (I get my mum to bring them in batches to the US!)


Andy C October 27, 2015 at 11:18 pm

Sorry… I am a stickler, Cottage Pie is Beef, Shepherds (as in SHeep Herder) Pie is made with lamb, they are identical bar that fact.. ;) oh and I love your site.. some incredibly tasty recipes..



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