Shepherds pie

Sophie Grigson's fabulous Shepherd's Pie oozes full on flavour and makes a simple but sensational family meal
By Sophie Grigson
Shepherds pie
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 1.75 hours 45 minutes
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Effort: easy



  • 2 tbsp bacon, fat (or dripping, or 1 tbsp sunflower oil and 1 tbsp butter)
  • 1 onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 675 g minced lamb, (or beef for a cottage pie)
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pinches black pepper

For the topping:

  • 900 g potatoes, cooked in their skins
  • 60 g butter
  • 150 ml milk
  • 1 pinches nutmeg, freshly grated

Tips and Suggestions

What is the difference between shepherd's pie and cottage pie? Shepherd's pie is made out of lamb (or mutton), therefore cottage pie is made out of beef.


1. Take a large, deep frying pan and heat half the fat in it. Add the vegetables, and fry gently, until patched with brown. Scoop them out onto a plate.

2. Raise the heat under the pan and add half the mince. Pat it down flat and leave to fry without disturbing for several minutes until the underneath has browned properly. Then break it all up, turning it over. Repeat the browning process, and then lift the mince out of the pan with a slotted spoon. Repeat with the remaining mince.

3. Drain off excess fat and return the mince and vegetables to the pan. Sprinkle over the flour and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the herbs (tie bay leaf and thyme in a bundle for easy retrieval at the end of the cooking time), enough water to cover, the tomato ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

4. Simmer for about 45 minutes - adding a little more water if it is drying out. By the time it is cooked, the mince should be succulent and thickened. Adjust seasoning, then tip into a pie dish and leave to cool.

5. While the mince is cooking, heat the oven to 220C/gas 7 and bake the whole potatoes in the oven until tender. Turn the heat down to 190C/gas 5.

6. Scoop the potato flesh out of the skins, and mash with 45g of the measured butter and enough hot milk to give a mash which is fairly soft, but still hold its shape.

7. Dollop the mashed potato over the mince, then spread down lightly in an even layer. Use the prongs of a fork to make patterns on the surface. Dot with the remaining butter.

8. Bake for around 30 minutes until the top is browned and the juices from the meat are bubbling up round the edge.

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