We’re always on the lookout for low-stress ways to make big batches of wholesome, comforting food that keep well in the refrigerator, and that we can eat all week. This Irish favorite is a casserole made with almost any combination of ground lamb and vegetables including peas, carrots and corn, topped with a smooth, creamy layer of hearty mashed potatoes that crisps up in the oven and turns golden brown. Each satisfying scoop yields a complete dinner that combines velvety layers of potatoes, perfectly crisped in places, with seasoned meat and vegetables in a soothing casserole that warms your very soul. Shepard’s pie is pure comfort food, and it’s easier to make than you may think.
For anyone undergoing treatment for cancer, including chemotherapy or radiation therapy, this dish can be a go-to, make in advance meal that delivers powerful punches of protein, fat and calories to combat weight loss and muscle deterioration, in an easy-to-eat package that is ideal for anyone suffering from the mouth tenderness or sores sometimes associated with treatment.
We love the pleasant, earthy flavor of seasoned ground lamb in a shepard’s pie, but you can easily substitute an equal portion of ground beef for a milder (and more budget-friendly!) dish.
Easy Shepard’s Pie with Ground Lamb
For the potatoes:
- 1 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 egg yolk
For the meat:
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 carrots, peeled and diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb (or beef)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 1 cup beef stock
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh (or frozen) corn
- 1/2 cup fresh (or frozen) peas
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium saucepan, cover potatoes with cold water. Bring water to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until potatoes are soft and tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes, return to pot, and add cream, butter, salt and pepper. Mash using a large fork or potato masher until smooth, then stir in egg yolk until incorporated.
- In a large skillet or sauté pan, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and carrots, and cook until onions begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, and cook 1 minute more, or until garlic just begins to turn golden. Add lamb (or beef), salt and pepper, and cook until meat is brown and cooked through. Add flour, and stir to coat meat, cooking for one minute more. Add tomato paste, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary and thyme, and stir. Cook until mixture boils, then reduce heat, cover and simmer until sauce thickens, approximately 10 minutes more.
Stir corn and peas into meat mixture, then transfer to a glass baking dish. Spread the meat into an even layer, then top with mashed potatoes. Using a rubber spatula, spread the potatoes into an even layer, making sure to form a seal with the potatoes around the edges of the dish. Use the back of a fork to “rough up” the surface of the potatoes into grooves or peaks, since these will turn golden brown and delicious in the oven. Place the baking dish on a sheet pan or cookie sheet to catch drips, and bake for 25 minutes or until potatoes begin to brown. Let rest and cool for 15 minutes before serving.