Shepherd’s Pie

This recipe comes originally from the sheep farms of Cumbria where, as in other sheep farming areas, rather tough mutton had to be made palatable. The shepherd’s wife chopped the cold, cooked mutton and beat it in a mortar. With a thickened stock and potato on top, it was delicious and very filling. It became a standard dish, made much easier with the advent of the mincer.

Shepherd’s Pie may be prepared the day before and given its final cooking 30 minutes before serving. It freezes well.


  • lb (¾ kg) cooked lamb or mutton, trimmed of all fat and gristle
  • lb (¾ kg) potatoes, peeled and cut in halves
  • ½ stick (60 g) butter plus a little extra
  • ¼ cup (30 g) flour
  • cup (1.5 dl) milk plus a little extra
  • cups (3 dl) good onion-flavoured meat stock
  • Salt and pepper


Mince the meat. Boil the potatoes until tender. Melt 3 tablespoons (45 g) of the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour. Add the milk and meat stock slowly, stirring all the time. When the sauce is smooth, fairly thick and just on the boil, stir in the minced meat. Stir over very low heat for 3 minutes. Season to taste and pour into a shallow, buttered ovenproof dish and leave to get cold.

Meanwhile, mash the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the rest of the butter and a little milk and whisk until smooth.

When the meat is cold, spread the potato at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick over the top and mark like a ploughed field with a fork. Dot with a little butter and cook in a 350°F (180°C, Gas Mark 4) oven for 40 minutes, by which time the top should be golden brown.