Skip to content

Shepherd’s Pie—– or is it Cottage Pie? Oh my!!!!

July 27, 2009

My husband worked in England 8 years ago, and our family fell in love with the British people, the British countryside, fish and chips and shepherd’s pie made traditionally with lamb.  I never even attempted to make it after we came home because, 1) it was made with lamb and we no have much lamb in Oklahoma, and 2) it seemed like it would be an awful lot of trouble to make because see 1).  Shepherd’s pie became a distant but pleasant memory…..

Then we went on vacation to Ireland summer before last and fell in love with the Irish people, the Guinness, the Jameson, full Irish breakfasts, and Irish shepherd’s pie made with ground beef.  Being older and wiser and IMO a much more experienced cook, I came home and decided I could and would make me some.  Plus, we have LOTSA beef in Oklahoma.

Note: My friend, Jill, from Western Australia, (see her comment below) says that technically, what I’m calling Shepherd’s Pie is really a Cottage Pie since I used beef instead of lamb. Both names make me think of a cozy warm fuzzy in my tummy, so I’m just gonna call it GOOD!

Anyway, for some reason the recipes I found with hamburger in them just didn’t do it for me.  When I came across a recipe made with roast beef, I jumped on it, tweaked it a bit,  and now it’s an “oft” requested supper at our house.  I would normally make it in the fall or winter cuz’  it’s what I’d call  “hearty”.  But, no one in my family complained when I made it this weekend, even though the themometer outside read 101. It’s kind of a pain in the butt to make, but, trust me here, it’s worth it.

So, set aside a bit of time (around 2 1/2 hours YIKES!) to prepare.

I start with some really good stew meat, about 2 lbs., or you could use an arm or chuck roast and cut it into chunks if you prefer.  The stew meat is pre-cut, which saves some time. (Of course, you could always use the roast you had the night before, but I’ve never done that. Too much trouble to make to call it leftovers!) Dust it in flour and brown in a little olive oil.  Transfer to a pot with 1 can beef broth, and 4 cloves of minced garlic.meat and garlic 1

(Yes, I know–I got lazy and didn’t  brown my meat. Shame on me, but no one noticed.)

Simmer til the meat is very tender. (about 2 hours)

Next, take a handful of baby carrots, or 3-4 regular carrots and cut into bite-size pieces.  Throw them into a skillet with a little olive oil.  Coarsely chop a bunch of green onions. ( I didn’t have any onions, so I substituted some baby leeks from our garden.) Put them in the skillet with the carrots, (also from our garden)veges Cover and simmer til almost tender.  Add a small carton of mushrooms, sliced, and continue to cook til the mushrooms wilt a bit.  Transfer to the pot with the meat and add 1/3 c. Guinness Stout, 1/3 c. Cabernet Savignon, guinness2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 tsp dried basil, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp dried marjoram, 1/2 c. frozen peas (optional-no peas for me! BLECH!!)sauceContinue to simmer, covered while you peel and cut up 4 medium potatoes.  boil in salted water til done.

boiling potatoesDrain and return potatoes to pan over low heat to remove excess moisture.

In your skillet, make a roux with 3 T. butter and 2 heaping T. flour.  Whisk til blended and starting to bubble.roux

Add some of the broth from the meat and vegetables to the roux and then whisk it all into pot.

stirring in the roux Combine well and let thicken while preparing the potatoes.

Mash the potatoes with 4 T. butter, 1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar and 1/4 cup milk (or more depending on how thick you want your taters) You can salt and pepper them, if you want.  I don’t add any extra salt, just pepper.

mashed potatoesPut the thickened meat and vege mix into a pretty baking dishthickened brothTop with the mashed taters, spreading them over the the entire dish.

Now here’s where some folks like to get fancy.  They might put their mashed potatoes into a cake decorating bag and pipe it onto the top of the pie creating a culinary work of art.  Some people even make little individual pies creating tiny culinary works of art.  Personally, I think those people are crazy, and at this point in the preparations, I just want it to be over.

So, I just slap the potatoes on any way I can–I’m not even above using my fingers to get it all the way to the edges. potatoes on top

Stick under the broiler until bubbly and lightly browned on top.  Remove immediately, sprinkle with more cheese and freshly chopped parsley.(from my garden, too)the whole pieServe up generous portions with some good crusty bread–and maybe a salad  if you’re feeling it. I wasn’t.

plate of foodHEY JILL FROM WESTERN AUSTRALIA!  This bite’s for you!

a bite

Shepherd’s Pie

2 lbs stew meat or cut up arm or chuck roast

4 cloves fresh garlic or a spoonful of jarred minced garlic

Can of beef broth (not low sodium)

Bunch of green onions chopped

Handful of baby carrots, or 3-4 regular carrots, cut in bite-size pieces

Carton of fresh mushrooms, sliced

Olive oil

1/3 cup Guinness stout

1/3 cup cabernet savignon wine

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

½ tsp dried basil

½ tsp dried oregano

½ tsp dried sage

½ tsp dried marjoram

½ c. frozen peas, optional

3 T (salted)butter

2 heaping T flour

4 medium  potatoes

4 T (salted)butter

1 ½ cups shredded cheddar

¼ cup or more milk

extra shredded cheese for topping

1/4 c chopped fresh parsley

Cook the beef with garlic and beef broth til very  tender. (1-2 hours or more)

In skillet cook the carrots, onions and mushrooms in a little olive oil in a skillet with a lid til the carrots are almost tender.  Transfer them to the beef and broth mixture.

Add the Guinness, cabernet, Worcestershire, dried basil, oregano sage, and marjoram and let simmer while preparing potatoes.

Peel and cut the potatoes into large chunks and boil til done.  Drain and put back in the pot over low heat to remove excess moisture.

Make a roux in the skillet with the 4 T butter and 2 heaping T flour.  When it starts to bubble, stir in some  of the broth and whisk it into the beef mixture to thicken it.  Let this continue to simmer while finishing potatoes.

Mash the potatoes with the butter, cheese, milk,( and salt and pepper, if desired.).  Ladle beef mix into baking dish, and spread the potatoes on top. Stick it under the broiler until browned.

Remove from oven, sprinkle with shredded cheddar and parsley.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. Jill from Western Australia permalink
    July 28, 2009 5:46 am

    Oooooooh Mystery…I have left drool on my puter screen from trying to eat the yummy forkfull that you so temptingly sent {{{HUGS}}} for making this despite the 101 temp {phew.}

    I was raised in Yorkshire England…didn’t come to OZ till almost 12 years old so was certainly brought up on “rib-sticking” tucker due to the vast quantity of snow on the ground 🙄

    I particulary like the use of a roux to thicken the gravy…much tastier than just adding flour.

    Now what you have made is technically called a COTTAGE PIE as beef was used…the term SHEPHERDS PIE refers to the shepherds who herd their flocks of sheep…hence lamb or mutton was the meat used. Trust me…both the Irish and the Brits would argue over many pints of ale or guinness about this :mrgreen:

    I must confess that I used the wrong term when refering to my daughters pie…it was a cottage pie…but as I was unsure that the readers would have heard of this I used the “common” terminolgy 😳

    I totally agree that the use of minced meat {from any animal} really doesn’t produce a true tasting “pie” {made it this way many times but always found it lacking…but of course it was quick and convenient.}

    Mandy {40} made hers with mince as Luke {15 months} eats everything she cooks…proud to say that he has NEVER had babyfood from a tin or jar…she has huge “cookathons” & freezes “Luke portions” for later. As I only live ~ 1 mile away I frequently get a serving…Luke even enjoys mild curries…me too 😎

    Many thanks again for sharing this yummy photographic recipe which will be on my menu in the very near future.

    Hugs ♥♥♥

  2. itsamysterytome permalink*
    July 28, 2009 7:29 am

    Jill, thanks for that lesson on Shepherd’s/Cottage Pie. I never knew that particular controversy raged! I’ll “adjust” my post!

    And kudos to that daughter of yours! I tried to be one of those responsible moms when one (can’t remember which one) of my kids was a baby. I bought about 50 ice cube trays and spent one whole weekend cooking a mountain of meals, pureeing them and freezing them…..and then I got over it. TOO MUCH WORK!!! But I sure admire those that are able to do it!

  3. Jill from Western Australia permalink
    July 29, 2009 5:51 am

    Thanks Mystery…I think your adjustments will stop any controversy about the PIE…personally I don’t care what you call it…just don’t call me late for dinner :mrgreen:

    In Nov 2006 Mandy had Jake…sadly he was stillborn so when she finally fell preggers in 2008 she was overjoyed. She dearly would love another baby (or 2) but this has not yet happened 😥

    Since finalizing her business Botanical Babes {landscaping/gardening etc} she has much more time for her main passion…cooking. This plus her maturity is the main reason that she makes all Luke’s food :mrgreen:

    I was only 24 when I had Mandy {sadly my only child}…life was too full and busy to cook every meal especially for her but naturally I pureed everything we ate…which she enjoyed…so don’t feel bad…I am sure all your kiddies have grown up well fed and with heaps of love 😆

    Mandy, Mark and Luke have just arrived home from their first holiday…1 week at Margaret River…about 4 hours drive south of Perth. They spent some time fishing…will find out tomorrow all about it {I know Luke had a gr8 time.}

    Hugs ♥♥♥

  4. Hilde permalink
    July 29, 2009 10:44 pm

    I am getting ready for Bed, before I do I have to tell You, mystery, You are just multi talented. Is there anything You can’t do 🙂
    I looked through All Your Recipe’s, they are just fantastic. I definitely have to try Your Cottage Pie, it just looks sooo good! Well, everything does.
    You should publish Your own Cook Book!
    Our Tomatoes are now coming in too, I love fresh Vegetables out of the Garden.
    Well off to Bed I go.
    Good Night and thank You for taking the Time to give us so many new Ideas, they are well appreciated. 🙂

  5. itsamysterytome permalink*
    July 30, 2009 6:59 pm


    Thank you so much for the compliment. Not multi-talented though–just a multi-tasker with too many interests and hobbies! Lol

    I do love to cook, and have had lots of practice raising 3 rowdy boys with huge appetites. I was lucky that they and their dad were not picky eaters and were willing to be my culinary guinea pigs. Of course, the recipes I try are pretty simple and are never fancy. Just down home cookin’.

    I’m jealous about your tomatoes. We’ve had such a crazy spring and summer–I’ve only had about 12 tomatoes from a dozen plants and it doesn’t look I’m going to get many more. For the first time ever our watermelons didn’t set either.

  6. Hilde permalink
    July 31, 2009 8:48 pm

    mystery, don’t be so modest, what I have seen so far, You are Both multi talented and a multi tasker 😆
    I always give Credit where Credit is due.
    You could definitely have some of our Tomatoes, they are coming all in pretty fast now. I didn’t do well with them last Year due to the Weather but this Year we got lucky.
    Nothing better than a fresh Tomato out of the Garden, especially when they are grown in Indiana lol, I am not modest am I? No Answer needed 🙂
    Coming from Germany and from a big City, Munich, it took me a long time to get used to Indiana, now I do appreciate some of the Things which we have here,
    Example, great tasting Tomatoes, Corn on the Cob, Muskmelons and really nice Fall Festivals which begin in late August and spread throughout Indiana, most famous is the Covered Bridge Festival in Rockville, Indiana.
    Maybe next Summer Your Vegetables in Your Garden will do great and make up for this Year, You never know.

  7. itsamysterytome permalink*
    August 2, 2009 3:49 pm

    You are right. There is nothing better than a garden fresh tomato–It’s one vegetable where the store-bought version tastes nothing like the garden version. My favorite summer meal is pimento cheese and fresh tomato sandwiches with fresh sliced jalapenos. (I’m cryin’ cuz I only got to have that once this year since our tomato crop was a flop!

    You should share some of your German recipes–in particular cabbage rolls?????

  8. Hilde permalink
    August 5, 2009 1:47 pm


    Cabbage Rolls


    1 Head Cabbage
    1 1/2 lb ground Beef
    1 med. Onion (chopped fine)
    4 cups Beef Broth
    1 pinch of Nutmeg
    Salt & Pepper to taste
    1 Egg
    enough softened white Bread (dip in Milk to soften) to bind Meat Mixture

    separate Stem from Cabbage, take off outer Leaves,
    put Leaves in hot boiling Water, simmer about 5 to 7 Minutes (no more)
    Dry Leaves on Paper Towel.

    Mix Meat with sautéed Onions, softened white Bread, Salt, Pepper, Nutmeg
    and Egg.
    Spoon Meat in to Cabbage Leaves, fold them up and tie with String.
    Brown stuffed Cabbage in hot Butter-Oil on all Sides,
    transfer in large Dutch-Oven add 4 cups Beef Broth, simmer 1-1 1/2 hrs.
    Thicken the Broth with a roux according to Taste

    Serve with Mashed Potatoes and/or Cucumber Salad, Tomato Salad

    Guten Appetit! Enjoy 😉

  9. itsamysterytome permalink*
    August 6, 2009 11:29 am

    Thanks, Hilde!! I’m gonna make these! I’ll also post it under recipes and give you credit! They look delicious. I loves me a good cabbage roll–I even like the ones diet frozen dinner ones.

  10. Hilde permalink
    August 6, 2009 3:00 pm

    mystery, this is one of my Favorites and I will share the Recipe with You if You don’t mind

    (Rinds Rouladen)


    4 Breakfast Steaks (thin sliced Steaks)
    Salt and Pepper
    Mustard (spicy brown)
    1 med. Onion
    4 Slices of Bacon
    2 Dill Pickles (cut in Half lengthwise)
    3 Tablespoons Flour
    1 1/2 – 2 cups
    Beef Broth

    Beat Steaks until thin if needed, sprinkle with Salt and Pepper and spread Mustard on one Side.
    Lay a Slice of Bacon on Top of the Mustard on each Steak, sprinkle with chopped Onions,
    place a Half of Pickle at one End of the Steak and roll it.
    Tie the Ends of the Steak together with a Piece of Threat or use Toothpicks to hold the Steak Roll together.
    Melt Shortening in a roasting Pan,coat Rolls with Flour,
    brown all Sides of the Steak Rolls.
    Add Beef Broth, cover and cook in a preheated Oven at 325 for one Hour.
    Thicken the Sauce with Flour or roux and season with Salt and Pepper.

    This Recipe can also be made on Stove Top, just cook covered on low about 1-1/2 Hrs.
    This tastes good with Mashed Potatoes and Purple sweet and sour Cabbage

    Guten Appetit!

    P.S. I double the Recipe, four Roll Ups wouldn’t be enough for my Family 🙂

  11. itsamysterytome permalink*
    August 6, 2009 4:41 pm


    I’ve never heard of this one, and I am already envisioning a German cooking day at my house in the next few weeks. Do you use flank or round steak or something else?

  12. Hilde permalink
    August 6, 2009 8:51 pm

    hi mystery, definitely not Round Steak, to thick.
    I usually look for Steak which comes in a Package of 3 to four thin cut Slices of Steak,
    sorry, I don’t know if it is Flank or not. I just look for what does look good and fresh also not too much Fat on it and easy to make the Beef Roll Ups with.
    If it is a little thicker than I would like, I just pound it a little.
    Sometimes You can make two Roll Ups out of one Slice of Steak, depends how big
    they are. Just keep in Mind to have enough Meat for the Filling and to be able to roll them up.
    I hope this is a little Help to You.
    This is a real Bavarian Dish, I guess I have mentioned before I am from Munich , Germany 😆

  13. itsamysterytome permalink*
    August 9, 2009 5:48 pm

    Thanks, Hilde–when I go shopping next week I’ll look for those steaks. Can’t wait to try your dish–both of them!! Thanks for sharing.

    BTW, I posted your recipes under “RECIPES” at the top of the page–They are under BEEF

  14. Sam Roustio permalink
    October 24, 2013 12:51 pm

    I found this recipe because my husband requested I try my hand at a shepherd’s pie. So naturally I googled it! lol Let me tell you I made three different recipes over two weeks and I wish I would have done this one first! THIS IS A-MAZING!! Seriously, it is the best recipe out there. I have two toddlers that don’t eat meat. EVER. They both eat this like they haven’t eaten in a month! I change it up by adding a bag of premium mixed veggies at the end and then top with potatoes. Other than that I wouldn’t change a thing!! Absolutely the best.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: