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Shepherd’s Pie

Meat, veggies, potatoes and gravy in one dish? Divine! This version of the British comfort food is made with ground lamb, mashed potatoes and a rich mushroom-beer gravy. The rave reviews make this a great casserole for company.

Serves six to eight people. 


  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 5 cups prepared mashed potatoes (about 2 pounds russet potatoes)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1 egg yolk
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 11/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium leek, cleaned and cut into 1/2-inch slices, including green part (optional)
  • 1 16-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1 small red or yellow onion, cut in small dice
  • 1-2 large carrots, peeled and cut in small dice
  • 1-11/2 cups petite green peas
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 generous cup chopped brown crimini mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Guinness draught or your favorite dark beer
  • 1 teaspoon beef base, or 1 cube beef bouillon
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce


  1. In a large bowl, stir together potatoes, sour cream, cream cheese, 1 tablespoon butter, egg yolk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper until smooth. You’ll want this mixture to be on the thick side — not too smooth and creamy. Set aside.
  2. In a large heavy nonstick skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add sliced leeks and cook until they start to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Remove leeks from pan, add half to the mashed potatoes, and set remaining leeks aside.
  3. Add ground lamb to pan. Cook, stirring frequently to break up meat, until meat is browned and no pink shows, 4 to 5 minutes. Pour off excess grease if necessary, and season to taste with salt and black pepper.
  4. Stir canned tomatoes with their juice, tomato paste, onion and carrot into the ground lamb. Simmer until vegetables are tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Add peas, even if frozen, at the last minute.
  5. In a glass measuring cup, whisk beef base and Worcestershire into the beer until mixed. In a separate pan, heat 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat until bubbly. Add mushrooms and saute for 3 minutes, until cooked through. Whisk flour into mushroom mixture until pasty and uniformly mixed with the butter, about 1 minute. Add beer mixture into mushroom mixture, and stir until the gravy is smooth and thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir gravy into lamb mixture and simmer until mixture is thickened, about 5 minutes.
  6. If serving immediately, heat oven to broil, with the rack about 6 inches from the heat. Grease a 9-by-13 inch baking dish.
  7. Pour lamb mixture into the prepared baking dish. Gently spoon mashed potatoes evenly over lamb mixture, spreading to cover like a crust. Sprinkle the top with the remaining leeks, then the cheddar, parsley and smoked paprika.
  8. Broil until crust is browned and cheese is bubbly, 4 to 5 minutes. Cool for about 5 minutes before serving.
  9. If you prepare the dish early, or it cools off, bake in the oven about 20 minutes or so at 350 degrees before adding the toppings and doing the final broil.

Note: You may use ground beef, instead of lamb, and then the dish is properly called Cottage Pie. The smoked paprika is a must — if it’s not in your spice rack yet, it will be after you make this recipe!

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