Dish of the Week: Shepherd’s Pie

Cozy up with a shepherd's (lamb) or cottage (beef) pie.
Cozy up with a shepherd's (lamb) or cottage (beef) pie. Photo by Sodanie Chea

From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we’re sharing a dish that will transport you right to the pub: Shepherd’s Pie.

Shepherd’s pie is a casserole consisting of minced or diced meat, vegetables (including carrots, onions and peas) and a crust of mashed potatoes that gets golden brown when baked. The meat and vegetables are often cooked in tomato paste, flour and broth, making a thick, gravy-like sauce.

When made with lamb, the dish is referred to as shepherd’s pie, and when made with beef, it is often called cottage pie, though the monikers are often used synonymously. The term cottage pie was first used in the late 1700s, named as such because its affordable ingredients made it a common peasant dish (and many peasants lived in modest dwellings, or cottages). It wasn’t until the mid-1800s that the term shepherd’s pie was used.

Whether you use beef, lamb, mutton or vegetables (making it a “shepherdless” pie), the hearty dish is a perfect comfort food (and a perfect way to use leftover veggies and mashed potatoes).

This recipe, from chef Anne Burrell, uses diced lamb shoulder or leg and incorporates red wine and fresh thyme, adding depth and aromatics.

Shepherd's Pie

yields 8 servings
Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder or leg, cut into 1/2-inch dice
Kosher salt
1/2 cup flour
2 large leeks, white part only, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 ribs celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 cup red wine
3 to 4 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 bundle fresh thyme
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch dice
3/4 to 1 cup heavy cream
2 to 3 tablespoons cold butter
1 cup frozen peas


Coat a wide pan with olive oil and bring to a medium-high heat. Season the lamb with salt and toss with the flour. Add the lamb to the pan and brown well on all sides. Remove the lamb from the pan and reserve. Ditch the oil in the pan and add a splash of new olive oil.

Add the leeks, celery and carrots to the pan. Season the mixture with salt and cook, stirring frequently until the vegetables are soft and very aromatic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Add the lamb back to the pan and stir to combine.

Add the tomato paste and cook until the tomato paste starts to brown, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the wine and cook until it reduces by half. Add enough stock to just cover the surface of the lamb. Taste and season with salt, if needed. Toss in the bay leaves and thyme bundle. Bring the stock to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Partially cover and simmer for 1 hour, or until the lamb is tender. When the stock level reduces, replace with more to keep the meat submerged.

Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover by 1 inch with tap water. Season the water with salt and bring the water to a boil. Boil the potatoes until they are fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the water from the potatoes and pass them, while they are still hot, through a food mill. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the cream to a boil. Beat the cold butter and hot cream into the pureed potatoes. Taste and season with salt, if needed. The potatoes should be creamy and very flavorful.

Remove the lid from the lamb and add the peas. Simmer for 15 minutes more to allow the stock level to reduce. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed. When done, the lamb mixture should be thick and stew-like. Remove the bay leaves and thyme bundle and discard.

Preheat the broiler.

Transfer the lamb to a wide, flat baking dish. Spread the mashed potatoes over the lamb mixture in an even layer. Place the baking dish under the preheated broiler. Broil until the potatoes are golden brown and crispy.
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Brooke Viggiano is a contributing writer who is always looking to share Houston's coolest and tastiest happenings with the Houston Press readers.
Contact: Brooke Viggiano