Shepherd’s Pie

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We don’t have the best track record for traditional St. Patrick’s day fare. Corned beef is our nemesis and our Irish Soda bread wasn’t bad but fell a bit flat (literally.) So this year we wanted to try something different and seek to redeem our previous experiences. We chose Shepherd’s Pie for this attempt at Irish cuisine which is a meat ‘pie’ with a ‘crust’ of mashed potato. Shepherd’s Pie, unlike corned beef and cabbage, is authentically Irish (as well as Scottish and English) instead of Irish-American. Pie recipes have been found that date back to the middle ages! Well, I am super happy to report that this dish is amazing and fairly easy to attain in a home kitchen. It may not be the best looking dish we have ever made but it is super tasty! The filling is an herbaceous blend of ground lamb, peas, onion, thyme, and rosemary and this mixture is topped with a creamy layer of mashed potatoes. We even added some of Guinness to give it some extra earthy tones! The combination of textures and flavors is amazing and the dish goes way beyond your basic casserole. If you’re like us and are looking for something different to make this St. Patty’s day try this Shepherd’s Pie for a dish that we promise will not disappoint!

Shepherds Pie-033 Katryn’s Wine Pairing: Trim, California Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Rating: 9.5 out of 10.0

We got this wine at a ‘Wine Bootcamp’ class that we attended with Nathan’s parents. The class was held at a winery/wine store nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains in VA. The store had a carefully curated selection of wines and we chose this Cabernet Sauvignon to pair with a future dish on the blog. This Shepherd’s Pie turned out to be the perfect pairing! The pie needed a bold, jammy, full -bodied wine like this one to stand up to the rich flavors in the pie. The dominant flavors in the wine were ripe cherry and currant along with subtle notes of dark chocolate, vanilla, and roasted herbs. The wine had a great balance between ripe fruit and moderate acidity and was packed with flavor (like the pie!) Nathan and I both agreed that the wine pairing could not have been better!

Shepherds Pie-034 Nathan’s Beer Pairing: Guinness Extra Stout
Rating: 8.25 out of 10.0

Guinness was such an obvious choice to pair with a quintessential Irish dish that I figured I had paired it with some other Irish dish in the past. I double checked our beer ratings list and was shocked to find that we hadn’t. I have officially corrected this mistake. This was a great pairing with the shepherd’s pie. The rich herby and earthy flavors of the shepherd’s pie was complimented by the roasted malts from this traditional stout. These earthy flavors are complimented by bitter pithy from the hops that cut straight through the rich flavors of malt and the shepherd’s pie. In addition, while there are a lot of flavors in this beer, the overall body is pretty light which helps to wash down a heavy meal of mash potatoes, veggies, and meat.

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Shepherd’s Pie

(Adapted from this recipe)
Total Time:
1 hr 30 min
Yield: 6 servings


For the potatoes:
1 1/2 pounds russet or yukon gold potatoes
1/4 cup half-and-half
2 ounces unsalted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt (add more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 egg yolk

For the meat filling:
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
1 teaspoon kosher salt (add more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons tomato paste
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup stout Beer such as Guinness
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
1/2 cup fresh or frozen English peas


1. Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch dice. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and easily crushed with a fork, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Place the half-and-half and butter into a microwave-safe container and heat in the microwave until warmed through, about 40 seconds. Drain the potatoes in a colander and then return to the saucepan. Mash the potatoes and then add the half and half, butter, salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth. Stir in the yolk until well combined. Taste and adjust seasonings.

3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

4. While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Place the canola oil into a 12-inch saute pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and carrots and saute just until they begin to take on color, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the lamb, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, beer, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.

5. Add the peas to the lamb mixture and divide evenly among 6 ramekins. Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula. Place the ramekins on a half sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

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3 Responses to Shepherd’s Pie

  1. Kent Norman says:

    I love Shepherd’s Pie! And your recipe looks incredible. Sell it to the Limerick Pub in Wheaton. I agree with you about corn beef. I threw up their corn beef and cabbage the last time I was there. Just wasn’t Irish!

    • Katryn says:

      We’ll have you over next time we make it! It’s so good. It’s also gluten free except for the 2 Tbs of flour in the filling which I’m sure we could replace with a gluten free thickener.

  2. Cierra says:

    This meal looks delicious! Makes me so excited for “The Holy Day” (only one more week to go!!!)

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