Tag Archives: shepherd’s pie


Shepherd’s pie (if it’s made with lamb) or cottage pie (if it’s made with beef) are pub favorites in Britain. They’re favorites in our house, too. The ingredients are straightforward, and the recipes are pretty simple. But they do take a lot of time and effort, especially with the mashed potatoes. You scrub, peel, cube, boil, and rice the potatoes. Then you mix them with butter and milk or cream. Finally you layer them over the meat mixture and bake.

It occurred to me that maybe there was a simpler way to deal with the potatoes. Another family favorite is smashed garlic potatoes where you boil russet potatoes in their skins and then mash them coarsely with butter and garlic so they still have lots of lumps, the bane of any self-respecting silky mashed potato. A little egg to bind them together and they might make a tasty – and easy – topping for cottage or shepherd’s pie. I thought I would give it a try. Here’s the result.


Lazy Man’s Cottage Pie


  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 6 snacking peppers, seeded and sliced into thin rings
  • 6 crimini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup beef stock + more as needed
  • ½ teaspoon ground thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon ground bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 medium russet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup half-and-half
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper
  • melted butter for top


  1. In a large skillet, heat the oil over a medium flame. Add the onions and stir, cooking until they are translucent but not browned. Add the ground beef, breaking up any large pieces. Stir frequently until the beef is lightly browned and all pink is gone. Stir in the peppers and mushrooms and cook for another few minutes until the peppers are wilted and the mushrooms are lightly browned and cooked through.
  2. Stir in the flour to cover all the other ingredients and cook for another few minutes until the oil is absorbed and the flour is cooked through. Add the beef stock and stir to make a gravy. Add stock until the gravy is the consistency that suits you.
  3. Add the thyme, bay leaf, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Adjust the seasoning and cook a few more minutes. Then transfer to a well-buttered oven-proof dish (a large soufflé dish is perfect) and set aside until you are ready to add the potatoes.
  4. While you are preparing the meat filling, place the unpeeled potatoes in a large pot of well-salted water and bring to the boil. Boil the potatoes until they are easily pierced with a kitchen fork with no resistance. This may take as long as 50-60 minutes.
  5. Remove the boiled potatoes from the heat and drain. Cool enough that you can handle them easily. Mash the potatoes coarsely with a large fork or a potato masher, Leave large chunks. Stir in the butter, half-and-half, and eggs. Cool the potatoes enough that the eggs don’t scramble.
  6. Cover the meat mixture with the potatoes, brush the top with melted butter, and bake in the middle of an oven preheated to 400° for about 45 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and bubbling.
  7. Remove to a cooling rack for 5-10 minutes. Serve while still warm. Should serve 4 persons.




Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes


I am sure that my UK blogger friends are looking at this thinking, “What in the hell does he know about shepherd’s pie?” They are probably right even though this is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. Detractors should be aware that the US Southwest is sheep country, and we eat a lot of lamb. It is also true that we have a hard time resisting putting green chile in just about everything. I suspect that someone has even made green chile ice cream.

Cooked lamb ready for the pie

Canned chopped green chiles

Chopped potatoes

I have tried to be true to the basic recipe while making it a uniquely Southwestern (USA, that is) by using local ingredients. That means roasted Hatch green chiles, asadero cheese ( a cheese that is made with a method similar to that used for mozzarella. Curds are cooked gently in hot water and then stretched. It is popular in Mexico and the southwestern United States, but if you can’t find it you can use mozzarella or even Monterrey jack.)  You could also use the Mexican cheese, queso fresco, and if you can’t find that, fresh farmer’s cheese will do.  As with real shepherd’s pie, the main ingredient is lamb.

Ready for the oven

Americans often like to douse their shepherd’s pie with ketchup (I hear another UK shudder), but this version seems to cry out for pico de gallo. This is a salsa made with fresh ingredients. The name means “rooster’s beak” in Spanish. There are several explanations for how the name came to be, but none sound very likely.

Baked and ready to eat


Southwestern Style Shepherd’s Pie


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 8 ounces, green chiles, chopped (fresh, frozen, or canned) Heat according to your preference
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano, shredded between your palms
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup water or vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup asadero cheese, chopped or grated
  • ¼ teaspoon Cholula hot sauce (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted, for top


  • Heat the oil in a medium frying pan until it shimmers. Add the chopped onions and cook until translucent, stirring frequently to prevent browning.
  • Add the ground lamb and continue to stir until the lamb is lightly browned
  • Stir in the  green chiles, cumin, oregano, and garlic. Continue to cook for a few minutes until the ingredients are well combined. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the flour and stir until everything is well coated. Cook long enough (5 minutes or so) so that the flour loses its raw taste.
  • Add the water or stock and stir until the gravy thickens. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Add more water if you want a thinner gravy. Set aside for final assembly
  • In the meantime, peel and cube the potatoes. Put them in a medium pot with salted water. Bring to the boil and boil for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
  • Drain the potatoes and pass them through a potato ricer. Stir in the butter, cream, and grated cheese. Add a dash of hot sauce if you wish and correct the seasoning with salt and pepper
  • Butter the insides of an oven-proof casserole. Pour the meat mixture into the prepared dish, top with the mashed potatoes, and paint with melted butter
  • Bake in the middle of a pre-heated oven at 325° for about 60 minutes or until the top is lightly browned.

Pico de Gallo

Pico de Gallo


  • 1 large, ripe tomato
  • ½ yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 green onions, cleaned and coarsely chopped, including the green tops
  • 2 fresh Anaheim chiles, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño chile, seeded and chopped (optional)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • A generous handful of cilantro leaves, chopped coarsely
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Blanch the tomato for 10 seconds in boiling water. Then peel, seed, and chop coarsely
  • Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Adjust the seasoning, and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  • Serve like any other salsa. Use generously on the Southwestern Style Shepherd’s Pie.

Southwestern style shepherd’s pie with pico de gallo on the side


Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes