Sunday Suppers: Especially Special Shepherd’s Pie

Camille and shep pie 010You've had it before: some type of meat in gravy topped with mashed potatoes and then baked. Kinda like a pot pie Wherein the crust is played by mashed potatoes. Some folks will only call it shepherd's pie if it's made with lamb, which makes sense. After all shepherds herd sheep. If it's made with beef, it's called a cottage pie. I'm not sure why, because it's not made of thatch or sod or What Not, but the origin of food names is a Murky Business anyway, so let's just leave that one alone.

I made my version of shepherd's pie with leftover meaty bones from a couple of different meals.  (If you've ever looked at a pile of bones and wondered if they're worth keeping, the answer is a Resounding "Yes!")  That's why it's especially special.  First, I had some meaty lamby bones left from the great biryani caper for Round 2 of Project Food Blog 2010.  The other bones came from the standing rib roast that we enjoyed for Christmas dinner.  If you want to see the rib roast in living color, you can always watch the video, if you'd like.

I wanted the seasonings in my shepherd's pie to be pretty minimal.  After all, I had beautiful lamby and beefy goodness that needed to shine through.  So, here's what I did.  And it is a technique, not a recipe, so please play with it as you see fit.

The Technique

  • braise meaty bones in liquid with Flavorful Additions
  • strain out all the bones and proceed.  (Alternatively, you can strain everything, pressing down on the solids then discarding them.  Start with new flavorful additions and meat at this point.)
  • Reduce and season to taste.
  • Pour in pie plate or other baking Vessel
  • Boil and mash some taters.
  • Spread them on top.
  • Bake.
  • Put in face.

Here are the ingredients I chose to Employ using the above technique.

  • meaty lamby bones and rib roast bones--they more or less filled the Dutch oven.
  • a couple of tablespoons neutral vegetable oil, for browning the meat and bones
  • water to come about half way up the sides of the meat and bones--you can use stock, or a mixture of wine and stock, if you want
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed and chopped
  • 2 ribs of celery, including some leaves, chopped
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • Worcestershire sauce, to taste.  I used A Lot.  It was the primary seasoning.
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2-3 large russet potatoes, cooked and mashed.  I mashed mine with olive oil, salt and pepper and half and half.
    1. Brown the bones and meat on all sides.
    2. Add all the other ingredients, waiting to fully season until later in the cooking process.  Don't add the potatoes, though.  They're for Later.
    3. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and let braise for several hours--at least four.  I think mine went for eight. Every once in awhile, stir everything up so all the bones and meat have a chance to be under the liquid.
    4. Once everything is cooked to your liking, take out all the bones, skim off as much fat as you can, uncover and let reduce until slightly thickened.

shepherd's pie

  1. At this point, you can either use the meaty goodness as is, or you can strain everything and add in some diced fresh vegetables and chunks of meat.  It's entirely your call.  I didn't, because I was more concerned about the flavors than I was about having discrete pieces of veggies in the mix.
  2. Taste and correct seasonings.
  3. Pour into pie pan/baking vessel.
  4. Spread on your mashies.
  5. Bake until browned and bubbly.
  6. Let cool a bit(entirely optional, but strongly advisable)
  7. Serve and eat.

shepherd's pie
This stuff was truly, truly good.  I mean, eyes-rolling-back-in-your-head good.  Make some, or something similar, and I guarantee you'll be a happy person.


  1. says

    Thanks, Drew! Better P&S camera–not quite ready to shell out for DSLR–and more attention to lighting (5000K bulb). Plus, I bought some lovely plates & What Not for “styling.” 🙂

      • says

        Spot on! I can hear your English accent and everything! 🙂 I think the Fench pronounce it pa(half-silent throat-based r that is impossible for anyone but actual native French spreakers to pronounce correctly)-mohn-tee-ay. Except those last two syllables are kind of one. This language is insane, I tell you!


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