Shepherd's Pie With Red Wine

by Ann on June 25, 2009

Shepherd's Pie With Red Wine

If I see Shepherd’s Pie on the menu anywhere (or something like it) I have to order it!  It’s the ultimate in comfort food with a nice bonus of vegetables.  Unfortunately, it’s not on too many menus in Omaha so I’m forced to make it myself.  Luckily, I found an amazing recipe from Saveur which I’ve tweaked to suit my needs…  as usual.  This recipe calls for lamb - making it shepherd’s pie, but if you don’t want to buy it for any reason, you can substitute ground beef and call it cottage pie!  That’s yummy too.  I love cooking with different meats, in fact, on Father’s Day we had some delicious braised goose with polenta, but we gobbled it up before I could take a picture so I thought I’d make lamb this time.  For a little fyi, I bought some grass-fed lamb at the farmer’s market, and it actually doesn’t taste any better than the lamb at the grocery store.  Interesting since the grass-fed beef is about a million times better than the grocery store versions (I’m talking no added hormone version).  I will continue to buy the grass-fed regardless since it’s better for you, but this lamb was really no different.  Depending on the cut of lamb you buy, you may have to do some major fat-cutting!  Lamb can be pricey, so it’s just more work cutting out fat if you buy a fattier piece.  I can’t stand chewing on fat so I’ll work forever cutting it off if I have to.  If anyone knows of a good butcher in Omaha, let me know!

This kind of food makes my husband happy.  However, this takes forever to make and makes quite a mess!  If you’ve got small kids, I suggest a babysitter or definitely some help before attempting!  In this case, my mom was around to help.  We started at nap-time and then when my son woke up, my mom entertained him so I could keep cooking.  Otherwise, I don’t think I would attempt making anything this time consuming!


  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 lbs lamb (any cut that’s on sale, cut into 1/2″ cubes)
  • 1/2 Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 3/4 cup beef stock
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 15oz can chopped San Marzano tomatoes, drained
  • 2 Tb flour (or if you’re gluten-intolerant, just substitute what you normally would to thicken gravy)
  • 1 Tb finely chopped FRESH rosemary leaves, fresh rosemary makes a huge difference here!
  • 1 tsp thyme, dried, 1 TB fresh if you have it, I didn’t
  • a few dashes of nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • 2-3 large russet potatoes, depending on how much you want, peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half or 1/2 cup chicken stock to lighten up the mashed potatoes


  • Pre-heat non-stick casserole dish to medium-high on stove-top (I use the same oven-safe kind so I don’t have to dirty up 2 dishes, but use a pan if you don’t have a transferrable pan)
  • Add enough butter to coat and brown lamb - you’ll have to work with 1/4 to 1/3 of the lamb at a time, removing to a bowl to brown up the next batch.  Add more butter as necessary, remove all lamb to bowl
  • Add onion, shallot and carrots to pan and cook until onion is see-through and browns a little, about 5 minutes
  • Return lamb (and all juices) to pan and add flour, whisk for about a minute.  You can also coat the lamb w/ flour first if you want to or if you forget the flour, just add it when you add the juices, it’ll all work out
  • Add beef stock, wine, rosemary, thyme and nutmeg, bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low and cover about 2 hours, until lamb is tender - yours may cook much faster, so keep checking.  stirring occasionally. 
  • Remove cover from pot, add tomatoes, keep simmering until thickened, about 35-40 minutes.  Remove from heat and add peas, add salt and pepper to taste, transfer to 2 quart casserole dish
  • Pre-heat oven to 375
  • Cover potatoes with water in a separate pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 25 minutes, drain, return to pot.  Add half and half (or chicken stock if you’re making it lighter) and a few tablespoons of butter and mash with a potato masher.  Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Top lamb mixture with mashed potatoes, here’s your opportunity to make those potatoes pretty.  I used 2 instead of 3 potatoes in the picture above, so more of the lamb mixture juices bubble over to the potatoes.  Yummmmm.  Slice thin slivers of butter on top of potatoes - about a tablespoon or two
  • Bake until the potatoes turn golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes

…a little note about the potatoes, it’s prettier when you use three potatoes, but the last time I made this with three and had leftovers, I ended up getting a bowl of mashed potatoes and gravy basically.  So, this time I made it with two instead of three for leftover’s sake.  It would’ve pictured even prettier had I used 3 but of course, I wasn’t thinking of looks, just of the flavor.  I need to remember that I have a food blog and it needs to look pretty, not just taste yummy.  It takes me awhile to learn my lessons but trust me, it’s goooood!

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