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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