You can easily make this Shepherd’s Pie with fresh ground lamb, but the leftover Easter leg of lamb we had in the freezer was perfect for this dish (#QuarantineCuisine is all about using up what you have!). First, what’s the difference between Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie? The meat. Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb; Cottage Pie with beef. You can use either meat for this dish and call it what you want – no one’s checking. What’s most important is that your family will love it!
If you are using leftover meat, you want to mince it as much as possible. Fortunately, I have a meat grinder for my KitchenAid mixer (which I also put potatoes through for mashing), but if you don’t have this device, just start chopping away with a chef’s knife.
Onions, carrots, celery, and peas are traditional in this dish, but mushrooms also make a great addition. Mushrooms also help stretch the meat if you're short on it. Alternatively, you can make this dish completely vegetarian by using and cooked lentils along with the vegetable mixture. Either way, this dish is so deliciously comforting (and easy), you'll get two thumbs up.
This makes quite a big batch, so if your family is small (2-4), you might consider making a smaller pie or bake in individual ramekins as I did. I made four 4 1/2-inch pies and froze the remaining meat mixture for future dinners. If you do this, I recommend you cut your mashed potatoes amount in half. I used three large Yukon Golds for my four little pies.
2 pounds russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/2 cup half and half or milk
1/4 cup butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 white or yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large or 3 small carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 pound mushrooms, diced (optional, but really good if you have them on hand!)
~1 1/2 pounds leftover lamb, finely minced (note: if using fresh ground meat, just brown a bit longer)
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup chicken stock or chicken bouillon (I used 1 ½ teaspoons Organic Chicken Better Than Bouillon and 1 cup water as I was out of stock)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (if gluten-free, use Lea & Perrins or another GF brand)
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup frozen peas
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Place the potatoes in a pot on the stove and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 15 minutes or until fork-tender.
Drain the potatoes in a colander, then return them to the pot. Add the half and half, butter, salt and pepper, and mash until creamy. Tip: a hand mixer works great but take care not to overbeat.
In a large skillet, heat the oil on medium. Add the onion and garlic and saute for about minute or until translucent but not browned.
Add the carrots, celery, and mushrooms, if using. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the lamb and stir to incorporate. (Note: If using fresh ground meat, cook in a separate saute pan for 8-10 minutes or until the meat is browned, drain the fat off, and add to the vegetable mixture).
Add the stock, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper, and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the sauce begins to thicken a bit.
Add the frozen peas and stir to incorporate.
Transfer mixture to a casserole dish or individual ramekins. Top with the mashed potatoes.
Bake until golden, about 25-30 minutes.