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In Like a Lamb Shepherd’s Pie

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They say that March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. This year, March came in like a lamb…a very chilly lamb, but a lamb all the same. The thermometer may have registered a cool 23 degrees and the ground is still covered in white, but the sun was shining and the air was calm; a rare occurrence ’round here during the winter. I sense that spring is just around the corner. But that might just be wishful thinking!

In honor of our lamb of a first day of March, it seemed appropriate to make a nice shepherd’s pie for dinner; a perfect comfort meal for a sunny, late winter day. Traditionally, shepherd’s pie is made by layering ground lamb, in a seasoned sauce, with vegetables and a layer of mashed potatoes; a well-balanced meal in a baking dish! This Irish-inspired dish makes a perfect one-dish meal any night of the week or would make a fantastic substitute for corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day!

Many variations of shepherd’s pie call for ground beef as a substitute for lamb. Technically, that wouldn’t be a shepherd’s pie at all, but rather a cottage pie. Shepherd’s herd sheep; not cattle. And shepherd’s pie is made with lamb; not beef. If your grocery store does not regularly carry ground lamb, you have a few options. First, try asking at the butcher counter to see if they would grind a lamb shoulder for you. Many accommodating butchers would be happy to do this for you. If you’ve got a KitchenAid mixer with a food grinder attachment, another alternative is to grind your own lamb. Finally, I’ve read that you can grind meat by pulsing it in a standard food processor, though I’ve never actually tried this particular strategy. If all else fails, substitute ground beef and call it cottage pie instead! It will still be delicious!

Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup carrots, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup onions, finely diced
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (plus more, if desired)
  • Pepper
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas, warmed
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn, warmed
  • 2 cups creamy mashed potatoes*
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Additional cheddar cheese and parsley, for garnish

*Prepared using your favorite mashed potatoes recipe or boil 4-5 Russet potatoes until fork-tender. Blend with butter and milk until creamy. Season with salt and pepper.

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add carrots and onions. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the ground lamb. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until fully cooked. Sprinkle the flour over the meat. Stir to combine. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the beef broth and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a simmer. Cook for about 2 minutes, until a sauce thickens around the meat. Season with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, combine the mashed potatoes with the cheddar cheese.

To assemble the pie, spread the meat and sauce into a baking dish. Top with a layer of peas and corn. Spread a layer of mashed potatoes on the top. Garnish with a sprinkle of cheddar and fresh parsley. Bake for about 15 minutes, until it bubbles around the edges and the top is lightly browned.

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9 responses »

  1. nice photos.

    Reply
  2. “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” -Oscar Wilde

    Reply
  3. You drew me in with your title! Of course! It’s actually quite lion-ish here in Oregon at the moment… we opened the month with high winds, preceded by a light snow. But I don’t suppose there’s a dish for that, is there? I’ll start to worry when someone serves me Tamer Pie.

    This recipe is a good reminder. Eve though we use lamb regularly here, as it is a local commodity, I’d forgotten about shepherd’s pie! And what a darling young face in your photo!

    My best,
    Pam

    Reply
  4. Oh what perfect comfort food and I love the addition of grated cheese on top – I don’t usually add that. :-) Mandy

    Reply
  5. What a nice hearty meal to celebrate March. Your right, it is very lamb like this year – and Ill knock on wood that the lion stays at bay.

    Reply
  6. This was wonderful! I’ve always made it with ground beef, but I actually found ground lamb (which I love), and it added so much to the flavor. The only changes I made were adding a few cloves of garlic (because I put garlic in everything) and a bit of red wine (because red wine makes everything better!).

    Reply
  7. Shepherd’s Pie has traditionally been made with lamb. Hence the name.

    It is best with lamb!

    In the British empire pie such as this made with ground beef is called a potato pie.

    Once you have it with lamb, you will never turn back!

    Reply

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