How to Make Scottish Shepherd’s Pie

If you’ve never tried Shepherd’s Pie, you’re in for a treat.  Answer these questions: 1) Do you like minced beef and gravy? 2) Do you like creamy mashed potato, topped with luscious melted cheese?  Put the two together, and you have the wonder that is Shepherd’s Pie.


Shepherd’s Pie dates back to the Middle Ages, when meat pies were a staple diet.  Game and mutton were served in pastry shells called ‘Coffyns.’  Potatoes were introduced to England in 1520 by the Spanish, but did not catch on and become generally consumed until the 1800s. 


Shepard’s Pie became a popular way to use leftovers by shredding or grinding leftover mutton, mixing it with other leftovers, binding it together with gravy and covering it in mash.  It is called Sheppard’s Pie because it was first made in Scotland, whose agriculture and diet was largely based on sheep. 


Today, you are lucky enough to be able to buy all these ingredients from the grocery store rather than farming them yourself!


For the mincemeat, you will need:


10 oz ground beef (lean)

1 onion (diced)

3 medium carrots (diced)

1 cup of beef broth

1 large tomato (sliced thinly)

Pinch of ground cinnamon

Italian seasoning (dried)

Sprig of fresh parsley


For the mash, you will need:


5 medium potatoes (peeled and quartered)

Butter or margarine


Salt and black pepper

Medium block of mild cheddar cheese (shredded)



To start with, heat your oven to 400 degrees F.  Next, turn a ring on to medium-high, and heat a large frying pan of wok.  Add your minced beef to the pan, and use a spatula to break it up into pieces.  You don’t need any butter or oil in the pan, the beef is oily enough not to stick.


When the meat it browned on all sides (3-4 mins), add the chopped onion and the carrot.  Stir in and let these cook, along with the meat, for an additional four minutes.  When the onion is brown and the carrot is soft, dust the flour over the top and stir in, making sure it doesn’t clump.  Sprinkle in a pinch or two of the mixed herbs.  Sauté everything together and blend well.


Next, add the chopped tomato and cook for another two minutes until it is soft.  Add in the beef broth, and add salt and pepper.  Turn the heat down, cover with a lid, and cook everything together for 15 minutes until the mixture has reduced and absorbed most of the broth.


Remove the mixture from the heat, and pour into a rectangular pie dish that is at least two inches deep.

To Make the Mash:


Now it’s time to make the topping.  Boil a large pan of salted water over a high heat.  Add  the potato chunks and boil for 10-15 minutes.  The potatoes are done when you can easily insert a fork all the way through a potato chunk with only minimal resistance (if the potato falls apart when you stick a fork in it, you’ve overcooked your potatoes and the resultant mash will be soggy).  Drain the cooked potatoes in a sieve.


It’s time to mash your spuds.  Add 1-2 tablespoons of butter or margarine, and a half-cup of milk.  Mash and stir it until it’s blended and creamy. Add black pepper.


Spread the finished mash over the top of your beef mixture, taking care not to mix the potatoes with the beef gravy by stirring up the beef.  Sprinkle with a generous helping of grated cheese.


Put the Shepherd’s Pie in the oven for 25 minutes.  The pie is done when the cheese is melted and golden brown.

Serving Suggestion:


Enjoy with a side-dish of fresh peas and sliced carrots.  

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