My British Shepherd Pie is made with lamb cooked in wine, zucchini instead of British peas, and potatoes cooked with garlic and sheep milk cheese.
British Savory Pies
I never thought much about savory pies from England until I married a Brit, spent time in the Cotswolds and saw such a variety of savory pies.
The Brits have some of the best savory pub pies I’ve ever had. Pies made with pork, layered with roots and somewhere in the middle is tucked a hard boiled egg.
Pies made with a variety of delicacies from the sea, seeing how they are an island! Some of the most delicious seafood dishes tucked into a crust were to be enjoyed throughout England.
Lamb, is my all time favorite meat and lamb is everywhere throughout the countryside of England because the grazing land in the countryside is so green and spectacular!
Shepherd’s pie, always made with lamb and not to be confused with a cottage pie made with beef, is a delicious way to use the leftovers from a lamb Sunday roast.
For the most part, a shepherd’s pie is really a lamb stew, all dressed up with the potato mash on the top rather than potatoes cooked in the stew.
A quicker version, made with ground lamb and topped with sliced pre-cooked potatoes, sprinkled with grated cheese, is almost as delicious as a slow roasted lamb and its stock.
A cottage pie, for the most part, is really a beef stew dressed up in different ways. For a delicious cottage pie (twisted), my London Beef Pie is a cottage pie with a pastry crust, instead of potato, twisted by sliding a few raw oysters into it.
My Version Of British Shepherd Pie
Everyone likes to put their own twist on a classic recipe and the classic British Shepherd’s Pie was just screaming for a little twist!
It just so happened, one cold snowy winter day here in Maryland, that I had a boneless lamb haunch in the freezer. I thawed the lamb and decided it was going to be used in a variety of dishes.
First, I had to cook the lamb. Roast it? Boil it with herbs? Nah. I decided it needed to get drunk on this snowy winter day, in a huge pot of herbs, spices and wine! Oh my, did that lamb turn out tender!
The lamb simmered low and slow for several hours in red wine, Mediterranean spices of sumac, black cumin, Aleppo pepper and fresh marjoram from my greenhouse.
When the lamb became ‘fall apart’ tender, I removed it and reduced the stock, now loaded with flavor and fat from the lamb.
Lamb was beautifully twisted for this shepherd’s pie, as is the stock that will go into the gravy.
Meat Pies With Or Without Pastry
I often think of a pie (sweet or savory), as having a pastry crust. That isn’t always the way a ‘pie’ is made.
Sometimes a meat pie can be open faced, like you will find in my Mediterranean Meat Pies, or covered with mashed or sliced potatoes.
But then there are those yummy meat pies that are covered with a pastry crust, with all the filling piping hot inside:
Sheep’s Milk Cheese
What better way to top off this twisted shepherd’s pie than with the lamb’s mother’s milk! Grate a flavor rich sheep milk cheese into the mash, before covering the top of the lamb filling to bake, for real English countryside flavors.
Sheep’s milk cheeses are my absolute favorite cheese, second is goat. The milk from sheep is significantly higher in fat and protein than cow or goat milk. Since sheep milk has the most solid content, it takes less milk to make the cheese and makes from a dense cheese perfect for grating.
Making Shepherd Pie
A shepherd pie can be made quickly from ground lamb, or the long way from a lovely lamb stew made from chunks of lamb cut from lamb that has been roasted, simmered or simply leftover.
A gravy needs to made for the lamb and veggie filling. For a quick gravy, a store bought broth can be used, or if you simmered a leg or shank of lamb in a homemade broth, that will make for the better gravy.
Once the lamb, veggies and gravy are prepared into a thick and hearty filling, potatoes will encase the lamb stew and get baked just before serving.
What better way to serve a potato mash on top of a lamb stew than to mix in a little garlic and a heavy handed helping of grated sheep milk cheese. Spread this luscious potato mix on top and bake until golden.
- Olive oil
- Red wine
- Black cumin
- Aleppo Pepper
- Fresh marjoram or rosemary
- Peas or zucchini
- Sheep milk cheese
- Stock pot
- Frying pan
- Small sauce pan
- Cutting board
- Chopping knife
- Garlic press
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Cheese grater
- Stovetop or burner
British Shepherd Pie
- Lamb leg or shanks – 3 lbs or more
- Onions – 2, rough chopped
- Olive oil – 2 tbsp
- Carrots – 8, rough chopped
- Celery – 1 bundle, rough chopped
- Garlic – 1 whole bulb, smashed
- Salt – 1 tbsp
- Red wine – 2 cups
- Water – 2 cups, boiled
- Sumac – 2 tbsp
- Black cumin – 2 tbsp
- Aleppo pepper – 1 tbsp
- Fresh marjoram or Rosemary – several sprigs or 2 tbsp dried
- Cooked Lamb – 1 cup, cubed
- Onion – 1/2 cup, cooked
- Celery – 1/2 cup, cooked
- Carrots – 1 cup, cooked
- Peas or zucchini – 3/4 cup
- Salt – 1/2 tsp or to taste
- Lamb stock – 2 cups
- Flour – 2 tbsp
- Butter – 2 tbsp
- Potatoes – 4 medium, peeled and rough chopped *see notes
- Garlic – 2 cloves, crushed
- Sheep milk cheese – 1 cup, grated
- To wine cook the lamb: place olive oil in a large pot heated to medium high, add the onions and celery. Stir until the onions and celery become slightly caramelized.
- Place the lamb on top of the onions and celery, add the sumac, black cumin, Aleppo pepper, salt and sear all sides of the lamb briefly. Pour in the wine, boiled water, carrots, marjoram and smashed garlic. Bring to a boil, lower, place the lid on and simmer for an hour and a half.
- Remove the cooked lamb, celery, onions and carrots. Reduce the stock in half. Cut the lamb and carrots into bite size pieces and set aside. This step can be done in advance or the same day.
- To prepare the Shepherd’s pie filling and potato top: place the chopped potatoes into enough water to cover, bring to a boil, lower and simmer until the potatoes are soft.
- Pour off the potato water and reserve. Add crushed garlic and cheese (reserving a little for the top), into the potatoes and whisk them until smooth, adding a little reserved potato water if needed. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350.
- To prepare the roux for the gravy, warm the stock in a small pan. In a separate large frying pan, melt the butter, add the flour, whisk to incorporate while pouring in the warm broth in, a little at a time until the consistency simmers to a medium thick gravy. Turn off the heat.
- Into the gravy add the cooked onions and celery, the chopped lamb and carrots, peas or zucchini (depending on which you choose), and salt to flavor as needed. Gently fold to incorporate all the ingredients of the filling.
- Transfer the lamb and gravy filling to individual baking dishes (preferably to serve in). Spread the whipped, cheesy potatoes across the top, sprinkle more cheese and warm in the oven until the potatoes get a little color on top and the cheese melts, about 20 minutes. Serve.