Shepherd’s Pie

When I was little Shepherd’s Pie was for dinner the night after we’d had a roast leg of  lamb as sure as the sun would rise. Mum had a mincer that attached to her Sunbeam mixer and the lamb, onion and carrot would all go through it.

I can’t say that I remember it that fondly but I do remember the ritual of it – the fascination with this scary looking mincer, the mash on top peaked by the prongs of a fork and the slathering the whole thing with tomato sauce.

I don’t have a mincer and finely chopping it by hand is not the same. And I was never able to bring myself to make it with mince until I saw this Terry Durack recipe for it in The Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Weekend magazine a few months back (It was part of his spread for an Easter lunch or something like that.) Terry’s had 200g of mixed mushrooms in it but I have a boy and a mother who don’t eat mushrooms so I just ditch those and cook it a little longer so the sauce isn’t too runny. Also, I have a mother (the same one in fact) who doesn’t like tomatoes, so while Terry’s calls for a 400g can of chopped tomatoes I just put a couple of cherry tomatoes or baby Roma tomatoes or two normal toms diced.

All that considered, it’s an absolute winner.

Shepherd’s Pie
Adapted from Terry Durack, Good Weekend magazine, The Sydney Morning Herald

  • Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped (I never have celery in the house so have made this more times w/out than with)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 500-600g lamb mince
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 125ml red wine
  • 300ml stock
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tomatoes, diced (or about 1/2 dozen cherry toms)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme (which I hate so I use parsley instead)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 800g potatoes
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 100ml milk
  • 3 tbsp parmesan
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

  1. Heat a little oil in a large pan and fry the onion, carrot and celery until nice and soft
  2. Add the garlic and cook off a little
  3. Add the lamb and cook for a few minutes, breaking up the meat so you don’t get any of those manky big lumps of mince (gag)
  4. Sprinkle over the flour and cook, stirring, for a minute or two 
  5. Add the wine, bring to the boil (whenever I add it it kinda gets absorbed straight away so I just cook it out for a little)
  6. Then add the stock, Worcestershire sauce, tomatoes, tomato paste and herbs
  7. Season and simmer for about 40 minutes until nice and thick
  8. While that’s simmering boil the potatoes until soft, about 15 mintues
  9. Drain and mash, then beat in the butter, egg yolk, milk, parmesan and the green onions
  10. Preheat oven to 180C
  11. Pour the meat into a baking dish, top with the potato, rake over with a fork and scatter over some more knobs of butter
  12. Bake for 30 minutes or until the meat is bubbling and the potato topping is nice and golden.  
  13. Spread potato on top of the meat