Recipe of the Week: Traditional English Shepherd’s Pie

The following recipe for Traditional English Shepherd’s Pie is from reader Bruce M.

Bruce writes:

This is a pretty basic recipe. It consists of minced/ground lamb, yellow onion, carrots, salt, pepper, & English garden peas; thickened slightly with flour; placed in a baking dish; topped with mashed potatoes & slices of cheddar cheese; and baked in a 350°F oven until the mashed potatoes are browned, and the cheese melted.

In recent years, ground beef has been used as a less expensive substitute for lamb. In addition, dairy products can be substituted for the mayonnaise, and vegan cheddar cheese.

With the recent spikes in food prices, especially meat, the local cost for a 1 pound cryovac package of ground lamb has stabilized at $6.99, whereas a pound of 80/20 ground beef has risen to an average price per pound of $5.99. Making it more attractive to make this recipe using the traditional ground lamb, as opposed to ground beef.

I do not particularly care for the taste of English garden peas once they are cooked. As a result, I have always made my Sheperd’s Pie with green beans, preferably French green beans, or Haricots Verts. Substituting green beans for garden peas will result in a slightly sweeter flavor profile.

In addition, seeing as Sheperd’s Pie started out in life as a low-cost food for the working class, I usually bump up the veggie content of the recipe by adding into the recipe any leftover cooked vegetables that I feel might compliment the flavor of the basic recipe. Or, add into the recipe any fresh vegetables in the produce drawer of the refrigerator that need to be used up. Or, both.

Here is the latest version of Sheperd’s Pie that I recently made using the greatest number of vegetables that I have ever incorporated into the recipe:

Place 5-to-6 quarts of water to boil in an 8 qt. stockpot. Add 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. If you have a pasta insert for your pot, so much the better. Otherwise, remove the cooked vegetables from the hot water with a slotted spoon, or a stainless steel, wire mesh-style spider.

Once the water in the pot is at a roiling boil, separately blanch/cook:

  • 1 pound of green beans, 1″ long pieces
  • 1 pound of red cabbage, 3/4″ chop
  • 4 pounds of potatoes, skins on, 1/2″ diced

Cook the beans until they have just a little bit of crunch left, when bitten. Immediately remove the beans into a bowl filled with cold water to stop the cooking process. When cool to touch, remove from the water, drain, pat reasonably dry using clean kitchen towels, and set aside.

Failure to perform the drying step will result in a soggy mixture. Been there, done that.

Repeat the previous step with the red cabbage.

Place the diced potatoes into the now red boiling water. The red water will not affect the outcome of the finished dish, nor the color of the mashed potatoes. Cook until the potatoes are soft enough to make mashed potatoes. Drain the potatoes, and remove into a large, 6 qt., mixing bowl.

Several months ago, my GI physician recommended that I eliminate all dairy products from my diet. As a result, the mashed potatoes that follow are made using mayonnaise, instead of butter, or margarine.

  • 4 pounds of cooked, 1/2″ diced potatoes
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of table salt

Set the mashed potatoes aside.

  • 1 pound of ground lamb
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Mix the salt and pepper into the ground lamb with your hands, trying to achieve an even mix.

Brown the ground lamb in a 6 qt.-to-8 qt. stockpot with the tablespoon of cooking oil, until all traces of pink color have disappeared. Remove the cooked lamb into a colander to drain, and set aside. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the rendered lamb fat from the stockpot, and add….

8 oz. crimini mushrooms, halved, 1/4″ slice

Saute the mushrooms in the lamb fat until they start to release their liquid. Cook until at least 50% of the moisture in the mushrooms has been eliminated. Then add to the mushrooms.

  • 1.5 cups of yellow onion, 1/2″ dice
  • 1 cup of celery, 1/2″ dice
  • 1 cup of carrot, 1/2″ dice
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic puree
  • 1 cup of yellow bell pepper, 3/4″ dice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon of dried thyme leaves

Cook the vegetables, garlic puree, and spices for 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently so that the garlic does not burn. Return the ground lamb to the pot, stirring to incorporate evenly. Remove the pot from the stove, and place on a folded kitchen towel.
Add the cooled green beans, and the red cabbage to the pot, stirring to mix evenly.

Add enough of the mashed potatoes to the lamb/vegetables mixture to bind the mixture together. When a large spoon of the bound together mix is tipped to one side, it should not separate, nor easily fall from the spoon.

Grease two 8″×8″×2″ baking pans. Spoon the lamb/vegetable/mashed potato mixture into the 2 pans. Cover with the mashed potatoes, sealing the sides of the pans.

Cover the mashed potatoes with an even layer of shredded vegan cheddar cheese.

Bake in a 350° Fahrenheit oven for approximately 60 minutes until the cheese slightly melts, and the edges of the mashed potatoes are brown. Switch the pans from one side of the oven, to the opposite side; and rotate the pans 180° at the 30-minute mark.

Serve immediately.

Or, cool on a wire rack for 4 hours, split into portions, and refrigerate or freeze.

Do you have a favorite recipe that would be of interest to SurvivalBlog readers? In this weekly recipe column, we place emphasis on recipes that use long term storage foods, recipes for wild game, dutch oven and slow cooker recipes, and any that use home garden produce. If you have any favorite recipes, then please send them via e-mail. Thanks!