This Shepherd’s Pie with Lamb is a classic from across the pond, sticks with this week’s Pi(e) theme, and is in full spirit of St. Patrick’s Day. This stewy version is a true crowd-pleaser you’ll want on your March Madness buffet, or whenever there’s a comfort-food craving.
While Shepherd’s Pie may not be the most glamourous of dishes, the mouth-watering flavor more than makes up for it with tender morsels of lamb bathing in a deep, rich stew blanketed with creamy, cheesy potatoes.
You’ll start by browning the flour-coated lamb. The flour will thicken the gravy later. Don’t worry about the brownings on the bottom of your pan. They’re full of flavor you’ll scrape up with a wooden spoon as the vegetables soften, and come up easily once you add the red wine. (Yes, some made it into the pot. 🙂 ) Instead of the traditional mirepoix (meer-pwah) veggie combination of onion, celery, and carrots, we’re replacing onions with leeks. They’re milder than onions, and the bonus is they won’t make you cry when chopping.
Below, everything is back in the pot again. The stock should just cover the lamb, which will get tender after simmering for about an hour, and the gravy will thicken. The thyme/rosemary bundle and bay leaf add another layer of happiness.
For the potatoes, you can choose whatever variety you like, but here I think Yukon gold reign supreme because of their already buttery texture. Along with butter and cream, we add a cup of freshly grated medium white cheddar cheese for a slight tang and nuttiness that also makes the potatoes ultra-creamy.
Once the stew is done simmering and the potatoes are ready, grab a wide, large baking pan (I used a 15×11) and layer in the lamb mixture. If your gang prefers a less-stewy shepherd’s pie, you can easily ladle out some of the gravy. Next, spread the mashed potatoes over the stew. Have fun either raking a fork through them, or get creative with a spatula. You’ll admire your work once the pie bakes in the oven, giving the potatoes a little extra luster. If you’re a lamb fan, check out our Lamb Burgers with Lemon Feta Tzatziki. Cheers!
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 lbs boneless lamb leg, or shoulder, cut in ½ - ¾ inch cubes
- ⅓ cup flour
- Salt and pepper
- 3 cups chopped leeks, white and pale green parts only (about 2 large)
- 2 cups diced carrots, unpeeled, well-rinsed (3-4 carrots)
- 1 ½ cups diced celery, 3-4 ribs
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced (3-4 cloves)
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 1 cup red wine
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 large bay leaf, or 2 small
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 3 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, cut into chunks
- ¾ cup heavy cream, or half and half
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup medium white cheddar cheese, freshly grated
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup frozen corn
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat. In a medium bowl, combine lamb and flour. Season with salt and pepper. Add lamb mixture to pot and brown well on all sides, about 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer lamb to a clean bowl. Cover with foil to keep warm.
Add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pot. Add leeks, celery, and carrots. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables are soft, 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in tomato paste. Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add red wine and cook until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Scrape brownings from bottom of pot with a wooden spoon after adding the wine. Return lamb to the pot, and combine. Stir in chicken stock and Worcestershire sauce. Lamb should be completely covered. Tie thyme and rosemary sprigs together with kitchen twine. Toss thyme/rosemary bundle and bay leaf in the pot. Bring mixture to boil, reduce to simmer. Partially cover, and simmer 45 minutes. Lamb should be nice and tender. Add peas and corn. Simmer 10 minutes, uncovered. Lamb mixture will be thick and stew-like. Remove bay leaf and thyme/rosemary bundle.
Toward the end of the lamb’s cooking time, place potatoes in a large pot and cover by 1-inch with tap water. Generously season the water with salt, and bring to a boil. Cook potatoes until they are fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the water from the potatoes, and transfer to a large bowl.
Warm the cream in the microwave and add to the drained potatoes. Add butter. Beat until desired creaminess. Mix in the grated cheddar. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Spread lamb stew evenly in a large baking dish (or 2 small)*. Top with mashed potatoes. Rake a fork over the potatoes, if desired. Place on a half sheet pan in case any of the stew bubbles over. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn on broiler, and broil 3 minutes so potatoes get golden brown. Let sit 15 minutes before serving.
*Inactive Cooking Time: 1 hour 10 min inactive **Recipe adapted from Anne Burrell and Alton Brown